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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Nelson Mandela guard shoots himself

Published:Aug 02, 2009

One of former president Nelson Mandela’s VIP police security guards shot himself at the statesman’s home in Houghton, Johannesburg, yesterday morning.

Mandela was at home at the time of the incident, but, according to the police, he was not in any danger.

The 37-year-old sergeant, who may not be named until his next-of-kin have been notified, was with several colleagues in the guardhouse when he turned his police-issued gun on himself at 11am. The police would not say where the bullet had entered his body, but confirmed that he had died on the scene.

Police Captain Dennis Adriao said the sergeant was part of the VIP static protection unit that was responsible for guarding buildings. “He was part of the first-line security,” he said.

He explained that the guard was stationed in the guardhouse, which is built into the outside wall of the property in front of the house, and was the first point of security that visitors encountered.

However, Adriao would not give details of the full extent of security allocated to the former president.

“We don’t elaborate on that,” he said.

The guard, previously a member of the South African National Defence Force, joined the police service in 2005. He was married with three children. The motive for the shooting remains unclear.

Chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Achmat Dangor, said the foundation was not aware of the incident.

Mandela’s grandson, Chief Mandla Mandela, said: “These are people who are supposed to be guarding not only my grandfather but the president ... The question is: how secure are our VIPs if someone who is supposed to be guarding them uses a firearm on himself?”

Mandela said he would be calling his grandfather’s presidential protection unit to discuss the incident. He only became aware of the shooting after being contacted by the Sunday Times.

Rory Steyn, Mandela’s former bodyguard, said policemen were under constant pressure.

“He could have done it because of personal or financial problems,” said Steyn.

Source: The Times

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