Angry officer fires on crowd

2011-10-12 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG police officer was arrested on Monday night in Raisethorpe for reportedly shooting at a crowd that included a senior police officer and pointing his official service pistol at a woman’s head during a dispute over noise.

No one was injured in the shooting, but the officer, who cannot be named as he is yet to appear in court, was detained and his service pistol was confiscated.

An onlooker, Ritesh Mohanlall, said that at about 7 pm on Monday he and his family were drilling holes to put up shelves at their new fireworks shop, which is below a block of flats.

He said the officer and his young daughter barged into the shop and accused them of causing noise that was interfering with their sleep.

The officer accused him of running an illegal fireworks store and threatened to close them down. He left for his flat when Mohanlall asked him to leave.

Mohanlall said he contacted Captain Clarence Richard of the SAPS explosives unit, who had issued him with a permit, to ask about its validity.

Richard decided to come to the shop to sort out the matter.

Mohanlall said that as Richard pulled into the parking lot the son of the police officer, who is himself a policeman, pulled up across the road and rushed to the store carrying a baseball bat.

The son taunted Mohanlall and his family, telling them to come out and fight.

At that point the older policeman and some of his relatives came down from their flat to confront the Mohanlall family. The father reportedly pulled out his service pistol and pointed it at Mohanlall and his family and the crowd.

“Richard jumped in front of this policeman asking him what he was doing and telling him to put his pistol away. The police officer fired and the shot went past Richard’s head.

“He then pointed his firearm at my wife’s head saying, ‘I am going to shoot you’.”

Mohanlall said the police were called to the scene, but refused to make an arrest.

“They told us taht because no one was dead they would not make an arrest and the person involved was a police officer, which meant he was honourable and would be willing to appear in court on Tuesday.”

He said the man was arrested after the Mountain Rise police station commander, Brigadier Francis Bantham, intervened.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Joey Jeevan confirmed that a case of discharging and pointing a firearm involving a police officer had been opened and a counter-assault charge had been laid.

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