More than a year later, mother still desperate for answers

2014-11-11 00:00

MORE than year after South Coast restaurateur Leanne Douglas was killed during a dramatic police chase her mother continues to search for answers.

Leonie Lukin from Musgrave listened to her daughter’s dying moments as police riddled her car with bullets, eventually causing her to leave the road.

As allegations of a cover-up swirled, an Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) probe was thrown out of court citing insufficient evidence to secure a successful prosecution.

Now, as Lukin struggles to come to terms with the death of her only daughter, KZN Violence Monitor Mary de Haas has decided to champion her cause. De Haas is pushing for a formal inquest into Douglas’s death.

Moments before she died, Douglas called her mother in a panic while driving north on the N2 towards Durban.

“Mom, they are shooting at me,” were the last words she spoke to her mother, who heard a commotion in the background.

The police had opened fire, shooting at the tyres of Douglas’s Spark and the car careered across the highway and landed on the southbound carriage way. Douglas was flung out.

At the time, The Witness reported that the Umkomaas police officers who shot at Douglas allegedly tried to cover up the fact that they had opened fire on her.

IPID national spokesperson Moses Dlamini said then the directorate was investigating Douglas’s death as a result of police action.

He said on the night in question the police tried to stop Douglas, and they fired shots when she failed to stop.

Police insiders said in the moments before her death, as she lay near the crumpled remains of her car, she begged officers for help. She died minutes later as police involved in the chase allegedly hatched a plot to cover up the shooting. Paramedics arrived nearly half-an-hour later.

De Haas said IPID’s investigation had been characterised by a shocking lack of feedback.

“This woman had been on the phone with her daughter when she died and she was not even contacted by the investigators. She had to contact them and then only did they take a statement from her. After that things went eerily silent and then all she gets is a letter saying that NPA had declined to prosecute, with no reasons given,” she said.

“It is really important for people to know about the formal inquest option which, with a good advocate, can produce more details than a bad prosecution. We suspect that many killings by the police end up without a formal inquest,” she said.

Lukin said, “This has been plaguing me and there was a time when I wanted to just give up, but Leanne would have wanted justice.”

Dlamini could not be reached for comment.

• jeff.wicks@witness.co.za

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