November 09 2009 at 07:18AM
By Sibusiso Mboto
A former top KwaZulu-Natal public servant was gunned down at the weekend as he came to his wife’s rescue from armed robbers who entered their farm home near Howick.
Warwick Dorning, 55, the former chief of staff in Premier Zweli Mkhize’s office, had recently retired to take up farming.
Government officials and political parties lamented his murder as a sad loss for KwaZulu-Natal.
‘A kind and good man has been wantonly killed’
Police said two gunmen had confronted Dorning’s wife, Dawn, in their bedroom on the farm Adamshurst, at about 8pm on Saturday.
Dorning rushed to her aid but was shot in the head.
Relatives living next door heard the gunshot and phoned the house, which is believed to have disturbed the gunmen, who then ran off with a DSTV decoder, two cellphones and a video player. Dawn was unhurt in the incident.
Family friend and former provincial cabinet member Peter Miller said the killing was probably the work of robbers who might have been observing movements at the house.
According to Miller, Dorning and his wife had developed and expanded an indigenous nursery and were looking forward to managing a thriving business, providing employment to many, while Dorning, using his writing skills, intended to continue writing speeches and research material on a contract basis.
“A kind and good man has been wantonly killed when he still had so much to offer,” he said.
Dorning had served the KZN government in various capacities for many years, including as general manager for inter-government relations in the provincial Treasury and as head of ministry in Mkhize’s office when he was the finance and economic development MEC.
He was appointed chief of staff in the office of the premier soon after Mkhize’s inauguration as premier.
“Dr Dorning was a trusted official and his sterling work is well documented. Before his retirement he devoted much of his time assisting the new administration to map out the programme of action for this term of office. A developmental state such as ours requires civil servants who are deeply committed to the principles of fairness, honesty, integrity, humble service to the people and justice for all. He possessed all these qualities,” said Mkhize.
Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu said Dorning’s killers were “worthless scavengers who are heavily disguised as human beings”.
Police have launched a manhunt for the killers.
The IFP leader in the KZN legislature, Bonginkosi Buthelezi, described the killing as an institutional loss “whose effect would be felt over time”.
“The killing is symptomatic of the extent of crime that continues in our society. We hope the police will act swiftly and ensure that the criminals are brought to book so that they account for the senseless killing,” he said.
DA caucus leader John Steenhuisen said Dorning’s killing illustrated the challenge in maintaining rural safety.
“With closure of the commando units, the level of safety has been hugely affected, and deaths as tragic as this one will continue to take place if security is not beefed up,” he said.
Sandy la Marque, CEO of the agricultural union Kwanalu, expressed the union’s shock, anger and regret at the “callous” murder.
“While noting that much comment has recently been made about rights violations against farm workers, we are gravely concerned with the violation of basic human rights of all residents on farms, particularly at this time, farmers and landowners.”
She commended the prompt reaction of the police.
Harsh Shringla, consul-general of India, said he was “shocked and deeply saddened” to learn of the death of their “dear friend and colleague”. He described Dorning as a vital link between his and Mkhize’s offices.
“He was one of the most dedicated, conscientious and efficient civil servants I have met.”
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Mercury on November 09, 2009