Dead son: parents want answers

2011-02-19 00:00

A KWAZULU-NATAL family are haunted by questions over the death of a loved one during an operation by the province’s controversial police Tactical Response Team (TRT).

The parents of Sandile Shangase (26), who died on the M19 near Clermont in Durban after being hit by a car on the night of November 19, 2010, are demanding that Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele answers those questions.

Shangase, a driver for a cigarette distribution company, was run over by a car after he was allegedly abducted and then released during the night on the highway by TRT members who had picked him up near his flat following a search involving him and some associates.

“We want to know why they took him from a safe place and dropped him off in the middle of nowhere. If he had done something wrong they should have arrested and detained him at a police station. But there is no record that he was detained,” said Sandile’s father, Bheki Shangase, a police officer himself.

“He [Sandile] was in his work uniform when they took him. Clearly he had just returned from work. We can’t accept the fact that some police officers seem to act outside the law. They must be dealt with and punished.

“… As much as we want crime to be dealt with, innocent people should not lose their lives. He [Cele] must look at the reasons why the TRT seems to work outside the law in carrying out its duties. What they did to my son was unlawful. There was no criminal activity there,” Shangase told Media24 Investigations.

According to five of Sandile’s friends who were cornered by about six TRT members on the night of his death, the young man was taken away because he challenged the conduct of the police.

A relative, Sbu Shangase, who lived with Sandile, recalled seeing Sandile being taken away by the police after Sandile told them they were acting unlawfully.

Later they got a call from a stranger telling them that Sandile’s battered body was lying on the side of the freeway.

“The phone call was made from Sandile’s cellphone and initially we thought it was the police trying to trick us to go there so that they could also arrest us. We eventually went after another call and what we discovered was just horrific because we were with Sandile earlier,” said Sbu.

The driver of the car that ran Sandile over said the young man may have been trying to flag him down when he was hit, but that he cannot say exactly what happened.

A case of culpable homicide was opened and is still under investigation, but Bheki Shangase has also opened a case of abduction and laid a complaint with the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) about the police’s conduct.

ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini said investigators are busy with an investigation into the complaint they received from Shangase’s family. “These investigations do take some time to complete because of all the evidence that needs to be collected,” said Dlamini.

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