2009-11-10: Cop allegedly shoots three-year-old

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2009-11-10: Cop allegedly shoots three-year-old

Postby GOSA » Thu, 2009-11-19 15:42

Cop allegedly shoots three-year-old

By Poloko Tau

A single gunshot through the window of a parked car, and a
three-year-old boy was dead. The shooter: a police constable.

Atlegang Phalane, 3, was hit by a bullet while seated in the backseat
of a white Hyundai with his uncle, Bongani Mchunu, around 6pm on Saturday.

The car was parked outside a relative's house in Klipfontein View
Extension 2, north-east of Joburg.

'They did not show any remorse afterwards'
Atlegang died instantly.

Now his family are asking whether he was killed because of a
shoot-to-kill instruction.

"We were waiting for the driver when suddenly I heard the sound of
tyres screeching as an unmarked VW Golf stopped next to us.

"Then a gunshot followed. The bullet shattered the window on my side
and hit Atlegang in the chest," Mchunu said.

"One officer in private clothing jumped out of the car and ordered me
to the ground while the other removed Atlegang's body and placed it on the
ground next to the car. They screamed at me, saying I was a suspect, but
they would not say what I did."

'My child was too young to die by the gun'

Mchunu said the officers did not ask a single question or fire a
warning shot.

"They fired even before they got out of the car. And then they did not
even seem to care that Atlegang was wounded as they cuffed me.

"Even if I was a criminal, were they supposed to just shoot at the car
when I posed no danger to them? They did not show any remorse afterwards."

The child's father, Vusi Mchunu, who arrived on the scene shortly
afterwards, was arrested as he tried to get to his son, who was lying on the
pavement. A third man, the owner of the car, was also arrested when he

All three were taken to the Rabie Ridge police station.

"They kept us there, and I was released later. But they still could
not say what Atlegang's father and the owner of the car had done," Mchunu

He said Vusi Mchunu was still being held at the Alexandra police
station and was yet to be charged with a crime.

It was not clear what had happened to the owner of the car.

Seated on a mattress at her home in Klipfontein View, near Midrand,
yesterday, Atlegang's mother, Mapule Phalane, said she was also not allowed
to get close to her son's body on Saturday, even though it took almost six
hours before a mortuary van arrived.

"I stood there watching the man who had just shot my son sucking a
lollipop as if nothing had happened.

"My child was too young to die by the gun. Why did they just shoot?
They then arrested his father, when all he wanted was to see his son's body.
Is this what was meant by the shoot-to-kill statements?" she asked.

Police have refused to comment on the incident.

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) said a Constable SS
Malaka of the Alexandra detective branch was arrested on Saturday. He
appeared in the Tembisa Magistrate's Court yesterday and was denied bail.

ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini said police were tracing a suspect on
Saturday and had information that he was at a particular address.

"They arrived at the address and found a car outside the house. It is
alleged one member saw a pipe which looked like a firearm, and he then fired
in the direction of the pipe," Dlamini said.

"A three-year-old boy was shot in the chest and died instantly. No
pipe or firearm was recovered from the car."

Atlegang's shooting comes less than a week after National Police
Commissioner Bheki Cele was quoted as saying at a police graduation ceremony
that officers have a right to return fire when shot at, but must not be
trigger happy. "Don't be trigger happy, assess the situation properly. We
must avoid the Mabopane incident," he said.

Cele was referring to an incident in Mabopane, North West, last month
when 28-year-old Olga Kekana was killed when police shot at the car she was
travelling in as they believed it had been stolen.

In another incident, Atteridgeville police allegedly shot dead
21-year-old Kgothatso Ndobe at his home late last month.

Have your say at www.iol.co.za/opinion

a.. This article was originally published on page 1 of The Star on
November 10, 2009
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