Africa

South Africa policeman arrested over boxing champion's murder

Map of South Africa showing Mdantsane, Cape Town and Pretoria

A man has been arrested over the fatal shooting of a South African female boxing champion.

Leighandre "Baby Lee" Jegels was murdered in Mdantsane, in the country's Eastern Cape at about 14:00 local time (12:00 GMT) on Friday.

Officials say the suspect was known to the 25-year-old and is a serving member of the South African Police Service.

The attack happened during a car chase and Ms Jegels's mother was also hurt, local media report.

Ms Jegels had been unbeaten during her nine previous fights and was expected to return to the ring on 2 October for a junior bantamweight clash.

Reports conflict on whether the 37-year-old suspect, who was later arrested away from the scene, was the victim's current or former partner.

Unnamed sources who spoke to the DispatchLive website alleged the boxer had a protection order against the man arrested.

However, a police spokesman confirmed to local media that the motive appeared to be a "domestic dispute" between "the couple".

"It is alleged that an off-duty policeman based at TRT (Tactical Response Team) East London fired several shots at his girlfriend who died instantly on the scene," spokesman Sontaga Seisa said. "The same policeman fired shots to his girlfriend's mother and injured her."

Officials say the suspect will appear in court on Monday. The case has also been referred to the country's Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) for further investigation.

#RIPBabyLee

Thabiso Mosia, a sports broadcaster, is among those who have paid tribute to Ms Jegels on social media using the #RIPBabyLee hashtag.

He also shared images of her fighting and training - including photographs of her with Floyd Mayweather in Las Vegas in 2017.

Some social media users have pointed out her death comes at the end of August, celebrated as Women's Month within South Africa, and have used it to criticise violence against women nationally.

The official Twitter account for the country's Department of Arts and Culture condemned Ms Jegels' murder and described it as an "act of cowardice".

Before her death Ms Jegels had also completed a Bachelor of Science degree and was a former karate champion, local media report.

A local boxing club manager, Mla Tengimfene, said he met Ms Jegels hours before her death.

"I had breakfast with her and we discussed what needed to be done to stage her dramatic return," Mr Tengimfene was quoted in The South African newspaper as saying.

"She was excited and looking forward to her ring return. She had been out of the ring for a while and this new venture excited her."

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