As the country continues to witness wrongful killing of police officers; the distraught family of a slain off-duty police officer is calling for the government and police management to reintroduce police villages and barracks where officers would live safely and be protected at all times.

Constable Lizwi Mbambeni, 31, was shot and killed in Mfuleni on Tuesday afternoon while another male person in his twenties was injured after an alleged argument broke out between a group of people at New Flats, where they were enjoying themselves.

His grandfather, Mzwandile Mfazwe, said the family were still in shock but felt that criminals were targeting police officers for their firearms.

Mfazwe said building police villages would not only guarantee safety, but also reduce corruption within the police service. “These officers become friends with criminals and they target those who they do not like.”

He said the dignity of the police officers was no longer the same since the government allowed them to stay within the communities.

He said as long as the status quo remained, “we will continue seeing these assassinations as we are aware that criminals are now in charge of our communities”.

Andrè Traut, police spokesperson  said detectives are probing the circumstances that led to the death of Mbambeni, who was stationed at Kuils Rivier police station. Traut said arrests had yet to be made.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz called on the police to ensure the swift arrest of the guilty parties, saying an attack on the police service was an attack on the state and must be treated as such.

Fritz said “At the same time, I urge the police to revise their safety strategies for off-duty officers. This year, we have lost too many off-duty officers and security personnel to brazen attacks by thugs and gangsters, and we cannot bear losing even one more”.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said it was disheartening that such acts in which police are killed regularly have become normalised, especially in the Western Cape.

“This, we have argued, needs special attention and we have engaged with the police to jointly work on a strategy to combat police killings.”

He said part of dealing with that challenge required finding ways to strengthen police-community relations and sufficient measures of punishing those who commit such atrocities.

Anyone with information that could assist in the investigation is urged to contact Crime Stop using the number 086  001  0111 or via the MySAPSApp.