Police shoot at wrong man

2009-11-07 00:00

POLICEMEN opened fire on a Pietermaritzburg university student returning home after a late-night study session in preparation for an exam he was due to write yesterday.

Law student Nkululeko Conco (20) said he had a blackout during his exam as a result of the shooting, which took place on Thursday night.

He opened a case of attempted murder against the police.

The UKZN third-year student was returning at about 2.30 am after a late-night study session when he saw suspicious-looking cars parked on his road. He lives with his parents in Margaret Avenue in Lynfield Park. The vehicles were parked about two blocks from his house.

“Two cars were parked in the middle of the road, I became suspicious, I backed off, turned around and sped off. The cars came after me and before I could reach the intersection on the R103 a third car came from the side road.”

He told Weekend Witness that while he was speeding away he saw some blue lights but he did not trust that it was police.

“Anyone can have blue lights. I could not take any chances.” The car chase continued for about eight kilometers. “I was going up the incline towards Poly Shortts when I heard gunshots. Soon afterwards one of the cars caught up with me and I saw that they were wearing police uniform. They … waved me to stop, that’s when I stopped.”

The police ordered him to get out of the car and searched the car and asked for his licence, which was all in order. “They asked me why I did not stop and I told them that I was scared, it might have been criminals. They also asked me whose car I was driving and I told them it’s my father’s car.” The car has four bullet holes at the back and another bullet hit the rear tyre on the right.

Conco’s father, Zamo Conco, said he is seeking legal advice on the matter. “I think the recent statements by the president and other politicians that police should shoot [first] are irresponsible. Where do they draw the line?”

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan confirmed that the incident happened. “The police were keeping observation on a stolen vehicle that had been traced to a house in Margaret Avenue”. She said the police were waiting for one of the hijack suspects to arrive when a vehicle with unknown occupants arrived. “It would appear that the driver of this vehicle noticed the police in the vehicles. He immediately stopped and reversed his vehicle and sped off at high speed. The police then gave chase”.

After several attempts to stop the vehicle police decided to shoot the tyre to bring it to a stop.

Jeevan said the police have opened a case of “reckless and/or negligent driving and failing to stop when ordered by a police officer”, against Conco.

The police reportedly went to a house in Margaret Avenue afterwards and arrested two suspects who arrived there with two stolen vehicles. “Further investigation … confirmed that the place is being used as a ‘chop shop’ and several mechanical instruments used to alter vehicles were found on the premises,” she said.

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