‘Mbalula’s bodyguard’ kills himself during arrest for drunk driving

Police have opened an inquest into the death of a drunk driving suspect who killed himself while being arrested.

The 30-year-old man drew a firearm and shot himself while being processed after being arrested at a roadblock in Soweto on Friday night.

The incident happened at around 10pm in Dobsonville as officers conducted a roadblock at Luthuli and Elias Motsoaledi roads in Dobsonville.


Suspect was being processed by a nurse

According to the statement from police: “MPO Mabasa arrested an African male for drunken driving. She took the suspect to the nurses at the station to take blood.

”While in the boardroom, he requested to speak to Lt Col Moagi and told the colonel that he was a bodyguard of the former Minister Fikile Mbalula. He then drew the firearm and shot himself on the head sitting on the chair. There was a nurse, two other drunken driving suspects and three JMPD officers.

“Ipid was contacted, officer Phakula attended, LCRC WO Zikalala attended the scene. Inquest case will be registered,” reads the police statement.

It is not clear what triggered the man’s actions. 

This is a developing story.

Men more likely to take own lives than women

According to the South African Society for Psychiatrists, suicide is one of the leading causes of death globally. And the prevalence amongst men is considerably higher than for women.


South Africa is ranked number 10 on the list of countries with the most suicides with 23,5 per 100,000 population. Of the 13,774 suicides reported in South Africa, 10,861 were men whilst 2,913 were women. This translates to a rate of 37,6 per 100,000 for men and 9,8 per 100,000 for women.

South Africa is not unique in this statistic. Worldwide, men’s suicide is ranked higher. Among the 703,000 people dying every year, the suicide rate for men – 12.6 per 100,000. This is considerably higher than that for women — 5.4 per 100,000.

During Men’s Health Month in June, the South African Society of Psychiatrists (Sasop) urged men to speak up before it’s too late. Break the stigma that it’s “unmanly” and a sign of weakness should men reach out for help.

Various factors, including fear and shame of speaking up

“Men are five times more likely to die by suicide than women and often use more aggressive methods. Surveys reveal that women are diagnosed more than men with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Men don’t speak about their feelings until it is too late.”

“Instead, they underplay the distress caused by these symptoms drowning their depression and anxiety with poor coping behaviours, increasing their risk of the anxiety or depression to go unrecognised and untreated.”

Sasop member and psychiatrist Dr Mvuyiso Talatala says the risk factors for suicide include unemployment and occupational issues, divorce and adverse childhood experiences. The symptoms of depression and anxiety are not in keeping with the perception men have of masculinity.

“The tools used for surveys for depression and for diagnosis of depression are not designed to pick up ‘male depression’. This is because men are likely to present with substance abuse, risk-taking behaviour, poor impulse control, anger, and irritability. Yet even though not reported in surveys, many of those men dying by suicide are due to depression.

It’s ok to speak, seek help

“Men don’t seek help due to the ‘macho male stereotype’ in society. It expects men to ‘man up’ and adopt the ‘boys don’t cry’ mentality. It’s this attitude of men portrayed as being brave and fearless that leads to men considering themselves in a negative light if they suffer from mental health conditions. And for this very reason, they see it as putting themselves in a vulnerable position when seeking help.”

To get help for yourself or those dear to you, contact the South African Depression and Anxiety Group. Their contacts: 0800 121 314, or send an SMS to 32312 and a counsellor will call you back.

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1 COMMENT

  1. It puzzles me that the suspect was not checked for weapons before being put in the ‘boardroom’. Me thinks there was negligence in the part of the arresting officer(s)

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