Family accuse police of executing Nelspruit man

2019-06-10 21:54
IPID is investigating after Nelspruit businessman Mervyn Masher was shot dead allegedly by police (Facebook)

IPID is investigating after Nelspruit businessman Mervyn Masher was shot dead allegedly by police (Facebook)

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The family of a well-known Nelspruit man have accused the police of executing him while he was lying on the ground. The police, however, claim that the man was waving toy gun around when he was shot.

Merwyn Masher, 38, stopped at the scene of an accident on Madiba Drive in Nelspruit in the early hours of Sunday morning where another person had been killed in a hit-and-run accident.

According to the police, after a motorcyclist slammed into the back of a car, a second car then hit the motorcycle. As a passenger from the second vehicle climbed out, she was hit by another car which sped off. The woman was killed instantly.

READ: Police allegedly shoot, kill Nelspruit businessman during fight with bikers

Masher, who arrived on the scene after the collision, then allegedly got involved in an argument with some bikers.

During the altercation, Masher allegedly pulled out a gas pistol, and held it against one of the biker's heads, threatening to kill him, said police spokesperson Colonel Benjamin Bhembe.

Police then allegedly tried to negotiate with Masher for more than 30 minutes to put the gun down and hand himself over. Bhembe told News24 that Masher had lowered the gun briefly, before pulling it up again and waving it around.

"It was at this point that he was shot dead by an officer," Bhembe said.

He added that, at the time, police suspected that it was a real gun and only realised it was a toy one after the shooting.

"If we knew it was a toy gun, no one would have panicked."

Masher was declared dead on the scene.

Conflicting versions

However, his family had a different story to tell, accusing the police of executing him as he lay on the ground, following the orders of officers at the accident scene.

According to a statement by the Masher family, Masher and his wife were on their way to buy food in the early hours of Sunday morning, when they came across the accident scene. Masher, still dressed in pyjamas, stopped and offered medical assistance because he was a trained paramedic.

The family alleged that an argument ensued between Masher and some of the bikers who were allegedly interfering with his "attempt to assist the injured".

"The police, who were also on the scene, came over and intervened and ordered everyone - including Mervyn, his wife, tow truck drivers and rowdy bikers - to get down on the ground," the statement reads.

The family accused a sergeant from the Flying Squad, who they named, of shooting Masher in the head at point blank range, killing him instantly.

The family also alleged that Masher had laid on the road for an hour and died without receiving any assistance.

"According to witnesses, Mervyn, who just like the other people at the scene, had gone to ground as instructed by the police and did not pose any risk nor threatened the policeman who executed him.

"Mervyn, at the time, had his weapon holstered in his front right-hand crotch side, covered by his pyjamas and underwear.

"This brutal execution was done in full view of Mervyn's wife, while she was also on the ground with the other victims, including the tow-truck drivers.

"Mervyn was brutally executed wearing the two paramedic surgical gloves as a dedicated and peace-loving paramedic who answered a call of duty that ultimately took his life," the family claimed.

‘Notorious trigger-happy police officer’

The family alleged that the police officer, who shot Masher, was notorious for being "trigger happy" and that the same officer had harassed Masher's wife after the shooting by placing her in the back of a police van.

According to the statement, she was only released an hour later, "while her husband's body still lay on the cold tar road, where he eventually died without assistance".

"When we as a family learned of this horrific incident, we rushed to the scene and found Mervyn lying dressed in his pyjamas in a pool of blood from a single bullet wound to the head, shot at close range execution style and his weapon still holstered."

Material disputes

Bhembe told News24 that the police were not going to comment on the family's statement and their version of events, adding that his information came from police officers who were on the scene at the time of the shooting.  

IPID has confirmed that it is investigating the shooting, adding that the investigation was still at an early stage.

Spokesperson Moses Dlamini said that the veracity of the allegations would be established through an investigation. "The investigation continues. No arrest has been made."

Read more on:    saps  |  ipid  |  nelspruit  |  crime

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