Cop versus cop: Drunk or trigger-happy?

2013-11-10 06:00

Members of Mpumalanga police unit the Tactical Response Team (TRT) are under investigation for allegedly shooting at a police officer’s vehicle and assaulting him.

The TRT members allegedly opened fire on Constable Sthembiso Mayisela’s car in Matsulu township outside Nelspruit last Sunday while they were manning a roadblock.

The incident followed a week after police had shot at hip-hop star Khuli Chana. Police say Chana refused to stop and tried to run over officers on the scene.

Mayisela – who works for the White River Flying Squad – said the TRT members were standing on the side of the road and one of them was chatting to a woman when he passed.

“There was no sign or anything indicating that there was a roadblock. After passing them, they opened fire on my vehicle ... I told my two passengers to lie down,” Mayisela said.

“I tried to speak to them that I’ll stop at the police station because I know we would be severely assaulted, but they were adamant. About a kilometre on the way to the station, they shot again and my car lost control and hit a pavement,” he added.

Mayisela added that he was handcuffed, pepper-sprayed and hit with rifle butts. He said his male friend was also assaulted, while a woman to whom he had offered a lift was spared.

Community members, who had gathered at the scene and recorded the incident with their cellphones, had their handsets confiscated and broken, Mayisela said.

Mayisela has since laid charges of malicious damage to property, murder and illegal detention with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

The TRT members laid charges of drunk driving and resisting arrest against Mayisela, but the case was struck off the court roll on Monday because of insufficient evidence.

Mpumalanga police spokesperson Colonel Leonard Hlathi said the prosecutor had returned the docket for further investigation.

“I can’t comment on his assault because that matter has been referred to Ipid to investigate. The police are attending to the prosecutor’s instructions on the docket and are investigating the case against [Mayisela],” Hlathi said.

However, he had a different version of events.

“This officer ignored the members conducting the roadblock. He was drunk and refused to stop so police chased him and one of his friends alighted from his moving vehicle,” Hlathi said.

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