Mystery around police shooting of Greytown businessman

2011-11-15 00:00

MYSTERY surrounds the death of Greytown businessman Zwakushiwo Makhanya (39), and his family alleges that the police lied about his death in a police shooting.

The taxi and bottle store owner was shot in the early hours of Wednesday morning on his way home from Durban. Police say he sustained two bullet wounds; hospital authorities identified four.

Makhanya’s younger brother, Khulekani, said that when Zwakushiwo failed to arrive home that evening his wife dialled his number, and the call was answered by a man who identified himself as a police officer.

“The officer said my brother was taken to hospital after a car accident. After taking details from the officer we went to the ‘accident’ scene, but the police would not let us close to the vehicle. We went to the hospital where we discovered that he had been shot by the police and had died minutes later at the hospital. As he was alone in the car circumstances surrounding his death will remain a mystery,” said Khulekani.

Police allege that Zwakushiwo opened fire at members of the police National Intervention Unit (NIU) on the R33 Greytown main road.

Provincial police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said he was driving recklessly towards the NIU, forcing a police vehicle to swerve off the road. The vehicle turned around and gave chase.

Naicker said Makhanya, who was later discovered to be wanted for an armed robbery in October, accelerated and fired at the police, who retaliated. “The suspect got out and collapsed a short distance away from the vehicle. He sustained two gunshot wounds, one to the head and another to his arm. He was taken to hospital where he died on arrival,” said Naicker.

Asked if it was possible for a speeding motorist to shoot at a vehicle driving behind him, Naicker said the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) will investigate.

Asked about the the failure of the police to tell the family about the shooting, he said: “It is possible that the policeman wanted to be compassionate when answering the phone or he was just surprised … I don’t think there was anything sinister.”

A murder and attempted murder docket has been opened.

A 9 mm pistol belonging to Makhanya was found on the scene.

Greytown hospital confirmed that Makhanya was admitted with bullet wounds. The hospital CEO said a Dr Daniels attended to him and identified four gunshot wounds. “The patient was resuscitated, but unfortunately at about 7.30 am he passed away …” he said.

An ICD spokesperson said Makhanya’s family can lodge a formal complaint at its Durban office.

• chris.ndaliso@witness.co.za

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