Newsmaker – Khuli Chana: ‘I don’t know how I made it’

2013-11-03 14:00

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Khuli Chana relates his brush with death at the hands of cops.

Khuli Chana is a wounded man in more ways than one.

He sits in a Midrand hotel room, his feet up and the right arm in a sling.

On Friday afternoon, Chana is particularly tender and softly spoken, a far cry from the energetic ­performer his fans know him to be.

Visibly shaken, the man who was born Khulane Morule in Mahikeng, North West, and a torchbearer of Motswako hip-hop with hits like Konka, Tswa Daar, Hape le Hape, Freshe, No More Hunger, Mnatebawen and HazzadazMove to his credit, chooses his words carefully.

“It has been the most traumatic week and the most traumatic thing to ever happen to me, but my family has been keeping me strong, and seeing my daughter smiling makes it better, but it’s tough. I have trouble sleeping,” he says.

Chana was shot at by police in what has been reported as a case of mistaken identity by officers on the trail of a kidnapper in the early hours of Monday in Midrand, north of Joburg.

They were looking for a BMW 320i and Chana was in a 1 Series.

“I was on my way to a gig at Moloko in Hatfield, Pretoria, driving by myself. So I stopped at the garage to call my DJ to see if he could meet me there, only to find he had just left his place. I realised I had a bit of time so I went to the loo. From there, I went inside Maxi’s to buy a cup of coffee,” he says.

“One moment was peaceful and the next I was being shot at on the ramp as I left the garage. The last thing I remember was a VW van with bright lights facing oncoming traffic, so it looked like it was driving back in.”

Contrary to media reports, he insists there was never a roadblock nor was he flagged down.

“I just remember trying to stop these guys from shooting. I was screaming in the car that I was innocent and had nothing.

“I work very late, until the wee hours of the morning, and you are bound to run into cops,” he says.

“I’ve got to a point where I know how to deal with the cops. There was no reason for me to run.”

Chana describes the dramatic shoot-out, which sounds like a scene from the Wild West.

He says when the cops started shooting, he let go of the steering wheel and the car moved slowly until it hit an embankment.

“I thought I was going to die. I thought, geez, I have a three-month-old baby daughter who I am so crazy about and I am not going to live to see her take her first steps. When the car hit the embankment, I was bloody – my hands, my legs. It was a scary sight.

The window was shattered by three bullet holes.

“I opened the door slightly, screaming, and I was scared they would finish me because at that point they didn’t know whether I was armed or not.

“I started screaming ‘it’s Khuli Chana, it’s Khuli Chana’, because I thought they were young, black policemen and they would know who Khuli Chana is.

“They ordered me to come out of the car with my hands up. I then faced the other direction and started walking backwards.

“Looking at the car, I don’t know how I made it. Ke Modimo (It’s God). I know now it’s a whole new ball game. I worship a living God. I want to represent the idea that you can overcome with time.”

To get himself back on track, he had his first session with a psychologist on Thursday.

“I want to beat this thing. I want to get better and pick up the pieces. This whole situation is very painful. It keeps playing in my head over and over again, and I’m trying to be strong.

“There’s the issue of police brutality to be addressed, but I also want to get back to normal – doing my shows and raising my daughter.”

On Friday afternoon, he revisited the scene with his lawyer, a ballistic specialist and a representative from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

“It was a bit confusing and painful to relive. It was horrifying and the whole time I had this feeling of my chest being heavy. It just won’t go away. I’m afraid this would make me socially awkward,” he says.

Chana is diplomatic when he talks about his assailants.

“I feel sorry for the good cops, the ones who wake up in the morning to feed their families and protect this country. This puts them in a bad light. It’s just sad you have bad cops. It’s very hard for me to point a finger at the SA Police Service as a whole, but I hope justice prevails and they do something about it,” he says.

“I am still waiting for an apology. The whole time I was there at the scene, I thought these guys realised they messed up and somebody would say they are sorry.”

Chana has cancelled eight shows and pushed back dates for video shoots.

His first appearance will probably be at the SA Sports Awards in Sun City on November 17 and then he will travel home for the yearly Maftown Heights party.

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