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Slain fire commander described as a 'diligent colleague'

Commander Lesedi Mphatswe has been described as a skilled professional & a diligent firefighter.

FILE:  The Orange Farm Commander was shot and killed last night, allegedly by another firefighter. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg Emergency Management Services (EMS) say they have lost a diligent colleague who dedicated 20 years of his life to the medical and fire rescue services.

The Orange Farm Commander was shot and killed last night, allegedly by another firefighter who has since been arrested.

It's understood the commander turned up at the firefighter's house in Vanderbijlpark last night to hand him a disciplinary letter and was shot dead.

EMS spokesperson Nana Radebe says commander Lesedi Mphatswe was a skilled professional and a diligent firefighter.

She says he was a teacher and he will be sorely missed.

"He succumbed to death last night. He had worked selflessly over 21 years; a very dedicated and passionate firefighter."

But Johannesburg firefighters have defended their colleagues' actions, saying he tried to hide his stresses from his family to protect them, with many standing outside the Vanderbijlpark police station with his family.

Their representative Dan Motsoeneng said, "They are been victimised, harassed and subjected to all forms of violence that manifested itself in different forms."

Radebe says fire department management won't comment yet as the criminal case must take its course.

Meanwhile, the gunman's family members told Eyewitness News they were shocked, saying he was a happy person and dedicated to his job.

A family member of the gunman, who cannot be named until he appears in court, says he was the bread winner and he can't believe he reacted in this manner.

"He's a humbled person who likes the truth and straight talk. If he's got something to tell you, he's going to tell you straight away."

He says the firefighter's wife and daughter were at home when the incident occurred.

"She called and said there was somebody who was trying to break into the house before the shooting.

He says the firefighter has complained about working conditions before but he has never reacted violently towards anyone.

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