‘Police don’t apologise’

2013-04-19 00:00

THE police do not apologise. This is what Pietermaritzburg father Abel Ngcobo was told when he tried to get an explanation from Taylor’s Halt police after one of their fellow officers shot and killed his son.

Ngcobo sobbed bitterly while testifying yesterday about the loss of Mlindeli, his 18-year-old son, who was shot by off-duty policewoman Hlengiwe Mkhize last year.

The shooting took place on the Bulwer road on July 7, shortly after Ngcobo’s vehicle rear-ended Mkhize’s car.

Acting High Court Judge Sthembisa Maphumulo found Mkhize (31) guilty of Mlindeli’s murder and of four counts of attempted murder of the passengers in the vehicle.

She rejected Mkhize’s claims that she was afraid she was being hijacked when she fired the shots that killed Ngcobo, or that she’d heard what sounded like a gunshot going off before firing and “mistakenly” hitting Mlindeli.

Ngcobo, a businessman who owns several taxis, broke down yesterday as he recounted the trauma he and his family are suffering after losing his son, one of eight siblings.

He underwent counselling with Lifeline, he said, but feels no better today than on the day of the shooting.

State advocate Melanie Naicker apologised for causing him distress, but said it was important that courts were made aware of the impact of crime on victims’ families.

Ngcobo said Mlindeli worked for him as a mechanic, helped to take care of his animals and was his “right-hand man” in the business.

Asked by Mkhize’s attorney, Surendra Singh, what type of sentence he thinks should be imposed on Mkhize, Ngcobo shook his head.

“I am really not right in my mind and so I will definitely leave that up to the court,” he said.

Singh said Mkhize had asked him to convey her apologies to him and his family for shooting his son.

“She regrets it very much … She wishes that day had never happened in her life,” said Singh.

He asked Ngcobo if he could forgive Mkhize for the shooting.

Ngcobo said that while he was “basically willing to forgive”, he had gone to the Taylor’s Halt police station soon after the shooting and invited officers to his home with Mkhize to “have a discussion about the matter”.

“Unfortunately, the response I received was that police officers do not apologise,” he said.

Asked again if he would accept Mkhize’s apology, he replied: “As far as I’m concerned it’s not possible to accept that.”

Ngcobo said he was unaware that the vehicle being driven by Mlindeli when the accident happened was a stolen vehicle.

Singh said Mkhize was remorseful, had accepted responsiblity for her actions and was prepared to be punished. He urged the court not to sentence her to direct imprisonment.

He suggested that a sentence of periodic imprisonment coupled with a suspended sentence and a fine would serve as punishment, while enabling Mkhize to support and care for her two children, aged 14 years and 11 months.

Naicker asked for a sentence of not less than 20 years’ imprisonment.

Acting Judge Maphumulo will sentence Mkhize on April 25.

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