NATIONAL NEWS - The police officer who allegedly shot and killed women’s boxing champion Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels has died following his arrest, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has confirmed.
The suspect was arrested on Friday after he was involved in a head-on collision near Peddie, spokesperson Sontaga Seisa confirmed.
The suspect was expected to appear in court on Monday but succumbed to his injuries in hospital in East London.
Jegels, 25, was shot, allegedly by her former boyfriend, against whom she was reported to have had a protection order, while commuting with her mother in East London, where she lived.
The boxer’s mother was also wounded during the shooting and was rushed to the hospital, Sport24 reported.
Seisa said that the motive of the shooting appeared to be related to a “domestic dispute between the couple”.
“It is alleged that an off-duty policeman based at TRT East London fired several shots to his girlfriend who died instantly on the scene. The same policeman [allegedly] fired shots to his girlfriend’s mother and injured her. She is currently receiving medical attention in the area.”
Eastern Cape police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni confirmed over the weekend the matter had been referred to Ipid for further investigation.
Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga described the incident as “shocking and devastating” and urged all parties involved to allow the Ipid investigation to be conducted with the accuracy it deserves.
Following the incident, the boxing community has been left “saddened” and “in shock”, according to a post by Boxing South Africa to their Facebook page.
Jegels had not fought since August 2017 and had an unbeaten record of 9-0 with 7 knockouts.
She was expected to make her comeback in July in Saudi Arabia, but the tour was cancelled after the kingdom “revoked the move saying that women shouldn’t be involved in boxing, wrestling or any aggressive sport”, the Daily Dispatch reported.
According to a statement posted by Boxing South Africa, issued by chairperson Dr Malefetsane Peter Ngatane, Jegels was scheduled to make a comeback in October.
Jegels’ professional boxing career took off in 2014 and in two years she was named the South African Junior Bantamweight Champion. She later also became the WBA Pan African Junior Bantamweight Champion.
According to Boxing South Africa, before joining boxing Jegels was a talented karateka who had achieved a black belt.
“What is also sad is the manner in which she lost her life, more especially at a time when the entire nation is busy bracing itself to celebrate the last weekend of the month of women,” Ngatane said.
The EFF in the province also spoke out against the violent incident during Women’s Month.
“It is disturbing that as we end the month that is supposed to honour women, we have seen more death, more abuse and more missing young women. It is also disturbing that violence has been normalised in this country due to lack of law [enforcement] and of the judicial system in playing their roles,” the provincial EFF said.