No place for tsotsi cops, minister insists
Johannesburg - Police stepping out of line would be harshly punished, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Thursday.
"We have emphasised the point that there is no place for tsotsi-cops in the service," Mthethwa said in a statement.
He said he had demanded answers from police management after a Soweto teenager was apparently shot and killed by a 41-year-old student policeman on Tuesday evening.
"Police officers who abuse their powers, harassing and murdering innocent people in this day and age, are not deserving to be called police officers and must therefore face the full might of the law."
Mthethwa wanted a speedy, yet thorough, investigation into 16-year-old Thato Mokoka's death. He was a Grade 9 pupil at Kgatelopele Secondary School.
Mthethwa instructed the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to thoroughly investigate the case and ensure fairness and objectivity.
"We are taking this approach because we want to ensure we do not prejudice or prejudge any person unjustifiably."
He also instructed the ICD to provide a comprehensive report on the events that transpired on the night of the shooting.
"If indeed the police officer who is currently a suspect, is found to have abused his powers I would expect serious and harsh steps taken against the officer."
Mthethwa extended his condolences to the Mokoka family.
"On behalf of the police leadership, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the family. We shall ensure that the matter is thoroughly investigated."
ICD spokespersonMoses Dlamini said no one had been arrested for the killing.
"The investigation is still underway. You don't just arrest because of allegations. We must first establish that that was the case."
He said Mokoka was shot outside the home of his grandmother Sybil Mokoka in Bramfisherville Phase Two.
"He was shot three times. Once in the back, once in the forehead, and once in the stomach."
A post mortem would be done by Friday.
Full extent of the law
Brigadier Neville Malila said in a statement that Dobsonville police received information on Tuesday about a group of youths, alleged to be members of a gang, who were terrorising school children in the area.
They were in a room in the back yard of a Braamfisherville house with a gun.
"Members reacted on the information and searched the identified shack. One of the youths found in the shack went outside and shots were heard."
Mokoka was found dead outside.
According to reports on Thursday, Mokoka was lying on his stomach with his hands above his head when the policeman allegedly fired.
Democratic Alliance spokesperson Kate Lorimer MP said the policeman behind the shooting had to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
In a statement, she said a number of questions should be answered in the investigation into the incident.
"Did the police have a warrant to search the property where a minor lived? If not, on what evidence did they conduct a search?
"Why did the police members allegedly assault the two girls who were with Thato in his room? Why was Thato shot in the back while lying down? What are the rights of a minor in such circumstances?" Lorimer asked.
Inkatha Freedom Party spokesperson Velaphi Ndlovu said the murder was one in a chain of events that indicated South Africa was sliding into a "police state".
"It is clear that the police used excessive force and that an innocent, unarmed boy was brutally murdered at the hands of the very people who are entrusted with the safety of ordinary South Africans."
He said he would raise questions about the killing in Parliament.
Dlamini said all reports at this stage were speculative and that the ICD would issue a statement on the details and any arrests.
The ICD's senior management, including executive director Francois Beukman, would visit the teenager's family on Friday.