Shock at ‘wild’ police shooting

2014-03-11 00:00

A LADYSMITH woman has claimed that police wearing plastic gloves dug a bullet that they had fired out of her back on Sunday.

Ezakheni, just outside Ladysmith, turned into a “war zone” on Sunday morning when police were allegedly fired at by suspects and then retaliated.

The drama began with the murder of an off-duty police officer in Ladysmith on Saturday.

The officer, whose name has not yet been released to the media, was attached to the Tactical Response Unit, and had gone to assist a neighbour who was involved in an argument with a group of people.

Police said in the process, the constable’s firearm was allegedly taken away from him by the group, who used it to kill him.

Later, when police went to the area to look for suspects, they were fired at by the suspects, resulting in some members of the public being injured.

Ladysmith police have opened a case of murder and two cases of attempted murder.

But the DA’s Alf Lees said they have filed a complaint with the Independent Police Investigations Department for police brutality after Ezakheni residents complained that they were shot at by police.

“Community members allege that following the shooting, police proceeded to search and gather expended cartridge cases. While visiting the area I came across two policemen who arrived to investigate at around 10 am. They were more focused on searching for cartridges than taking statements,” said Lees.

He said when he visited the Ezakheni police station to obtain a case number, he was informed that the computer system was not functional.

“Furthermore, they could not tell me when they would be able to obtain a case number,” he said.

Lees said police were allegedly hunting suspects who were reportedly responsible for killing the policeman in Ezakheni the previous day. “While this crime deserves condemnation, it does not provide police members with a free licence to open fire, using live ammunition, at random.”

NFP councillor Mandla Justice Buthelezi said he could not believe his eyes when he saw the police open fire on the community on Sunday.

“The people were going about their business as usual when the police just came and started firing. They all started running and didn’t know what to do,” said Buthelezi.

He said the woman, Nellie Langa, who was shot in her back, had been washing her clothes. “When she saw the police firing she started running and that’s when she got hit by the bullet. The police didn’t care, they just dug their hands into her back and took out the bullet. They had plastic gloves on.”

Buthelezi said another man, who was shot in the arm, was having a bath and was naked when he was shot at.

“The police did not even bother to allow him to put on clothes. They dragged him and made him lie on the floor and hunted all around him for their bullets,” said Buthelezi.

Police and the IPID confirmed they were investigating.

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