Police accused of cover-up over death

2013-09-19 00:00

UMKOMAAS police officers who shot at a former Durban woman’s car on Sunday, leading to her death, allegedly tried to cover up the fact that they had opened fire on her.

Leanne Douglas (45) died on Sunday night when her car overturned on the N2 as police pursued.

Douglas, the owner of the popular Red Rooster restaurant in Port Shepstone, was on her way to her mother’s house in Musgrave, Durban.

Police have told Douglas’s mother, Leonie Luckin, that she will have to wait three weeks for the postmortem results.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) national spokesperson, Moses Dlamini, said the directorate was investigating Douglas’s death as a result of police action.

He said on the night in question a group of policemen driving in two marked vehicles and one unmarked saw a woman who was driving a blue Chevrolet Spark on the N2 from Port Shepstone, driving towards Umkomaas.

Dlamini said the police allege that Douglas was driving recklessly. “When the police tried to stop her she allegedly sped off and a chase ensued. The policemen fired shots at the woman’s vehicle causing her to lose control, and the vehicle overturned.

“The woman died on the scene. It is alleged that the policemen reported just the accident and concealed the fact that they had shot at the deceased’s vehicle.

“When the vehicle was towed away, the station commander noticed bullet holes on the vehicle and he called the suspects and tried to get clarity. They could not give a reasonable explanation for the shooting. The station commander informed the IPID as required by Section 29(1) of the IPID Act,” said Dlamini.

The section stipulates that any police action that warrants an investigation by IPID should be reported to the directorate within 24 hours.

Dlamini said the attempt by the officers to withhold evidence warranted action by IPID. He said the results of the investigation will determine what charges will be levelled against whoever is found to be in the wrong.

“We can’t divulge more details but once the investigations are concluded we will be able to say how many times was the car hit by bullets,” he said.

Luckin sobbed as she told The Witness that she went to the Park Rynie mortuary but could not take a proper look at her daughter’s body. She said she could not bear to look at her daughter’s car, which was taken to the Umkomaas police station.

“Looking at her car or her body would bring me sad memories. I’ve been told by an officer that it would take three weeks before I can get to know what killed my child. Another officer who said he was from IPID assured me that they will speed up the process,” said Luckin.

Douglas moved to Port Shepstone last year and opened the Red Rooster restaurant in November.

She told the South Coast Fever in an interview in February that the decision to move away from Durban had been easy as she had never been a city person.

Institute for Security Studies (ISS) spokesperson Dr Johan Burger said allegations that the police officers withheld information about the shooting is evidence that they were not justified in shooting at the woman’s car.

“In the face of these allegations it is clear that these officers have complete disregard of the law and they should face the consequences,” he said.

A docket of murder and defeating the ends of justice has been opened. The investigation continues. No arrests have been made and the policemen are still on duty.

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