‘Police are out to kill us'

2010-12-09 00:00

THE shooting of a man in Richmond in the early hours of yesterday morning is the second incident in the same area in the space of a month in which police have been accused of brutality.

The police watchdog unit, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), is investigating both cases.

The latest killing has enraged community members, who suspect that local police are intent on shooting to kill.

This follows an incident in which Thabiso Lepeno (29) was awoken and shot while in his room by a group of officers in Siyathuthuka area at about 3 am.

Police said they were looking for Lepeno and another man in connection with armed robbery.

They alleged that Lepeno pointed a firearm at them before he was shot.

Lepeno, who was renting the room in a block of flats, died on arrival at Richmond Community Healthcare Centre at about 7 am.

It is alleged he was asleep with his girlfriend, Nobuhle Mtolo, who had visited him for the night, when the officers arrived.

Lepeno’s landlady of five years, Mantombi Mbiko (36), said she was asleep with four young children when police kicked the doors open. She said she heard gunshots from Lepeno’s room.

“After the gunshots, police came into my room and demanded to know who was with me.

“They pointed their firearms at me. I begged them not to shoot me and I told them that I was with four children.

“They pushed Nobuhle into my room, closed the door and ordered us remain inside. We were only let out at about 7 am,” said Mbiko.

She said Lepeno, who was from Matatiele, was working for a local hardware shop.

When they were freed they saw a group of officers, and Lepono was lying in a pool of blood outside his room.

“An ambulance arrived to take Thabiso away. Later on I heard that he died on arrival at the clinic.

“Police took Nobuhle to the police station and since then I have not seen her,” she said.

Neighbours said they saw an unconscious Lepeno in a pool of blood outside the room.

Said Mthulisi Ngcobo,“Since this is the second incident in a very short space of time, we are concerned that police are out to kill people in this area.”

One resident said he immediately called the ICD about the matter.

ICD spokesperson Tiyani Sambo confirmed that they are investigating the matter.

“I can only confirm that it is under ICD investigation. It is at a preliminary stage,” he said.

And about the first incident, which claimed the life of Mfano Mkhize (45) and left four other people with serious wounds on October 31, Sambo said: “That investigation is moving fast and is at a delicate stage. The outcome will determine further action.”

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan said Lepeno’s accomplice, who was also in the room, managed to escape. She said the raid followed an attack on a Richmond house on December 1.

“They [Lepeno and the escaped suspect] then ransacked the house and removed a computer set, a Samsung video machine, a DVD player, a hair dryer and a leather jacket from the house and fled from the scene in an awaiting … vehicle.”

Jeevan said a 9 mm pistol with the serial number filed off was found at the scene.

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