By Mandla Khoza
Malelane – A policeman has been accused of shooting a young man in the jaw while he was walking home in a village in Mpumalanga.
The victim, Sibusiso Lukhele, 24, was shot in Driekoppies outside Malalane on Sunday afternoon.
“The case is being probed within the police and there’s an attempted murder case opened against the officer since the provincial commissioner instructed a swift probe in the matter,” said provincial police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Hlathi.
He said Provincial Police Commissioner Major General Thulani Ntobela had instructed police to investigate the matter after Lukhele’s family complained that they were not allowed to open a case against the officer.
Hlathi denied that Schoemansdal police initially refused to open a case against the officer, explaining that there had been a miscommunication between the police and the family.
“The parents were not denied an opportunity to open a case against the officer. They were instead told that since they were not at the scene they should let the police open a skeleton case and then allow the victim to come and fill in his version of the events. The case was finally registered,” said Hlathi.
Lukhele’s father, Joseph, said the Schoemansdal police had told the family that they would only register a case if their hospitalised son opened it himself.
“They told us that Sibusiso should open the case himself, but he was in hospital,” he said.
Sibusiso has been admitted at the Oral and Dental Hospital in Pretoria to have the bullet removed from his jaw.
He said he couldn’t believe what had happened to him. “I was on my way home when the shooting took place. There were two suspected robbers who were being held by angry community members when the officer fired the first two shots. When I tried to see what was going on, I was shot in the jaw. Some of the community members immediately rushed me to Shongwe Hospital. I was later transferred to Pretoria,” said Lukhele.
Lukhele said while he was at Shongwe Hospital, the same officer who has now been charged with his shooting, came to the hospital to arrest him, saying he was a suspect in a malicious damage to property incident that took place later that Sunday.
He said he later learned that after he had been taken to hospital, angry community members went to the officer’s house and damaged property at his home.
“While in the hospital the police officer came and charged me with malicious damage to property. He hand-cuffed me and chained me to the bed. He then told two officers to watch me all the time because I was a suspect in the attack on his house,” said Lukhele.
Lukhele said the officer also told him to appear in the Boschfontein periodical court on Thursday in connection with the malicious damage to property charge.
Hlathi said he was not aware of the malicious damage to property charge against Lukhele.
He warned, however, that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had instructed senior police officers to take action against offending officers in order to reduce civil claims after the police ministry incurred more than R100 million in civil claims due to police negligence.
“Since the minister’s call we have been enforcing departmental measures. We want to say that we are taking this case seriously and are going to make sure that the officer accounts departmentally,” said Hlathi.
Hlathi was unable to say when the police officer was scheduled to appear in court. – BuaNews