NEWS
21/04/2018 08:40 SAST | Updated 23/04/2018 22:30 SAST

Mahikeng Shooting: Family Of Slain SANDF Officer Wants Answers

Thato Motale, 30, was shot on Thursday amid violent protests against North West premier Supra Mahumapelo.

A South African riot police officer fires rubber bullets to prevent looting in North West on April 20, 2018, as protests continued for a second day in provincial capital of Mahikeng.
MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images
A South African riot police officer fires rubber bullets to prevent looting in North West on April 20, 2018, as protests continued for a second day in provincial capital of Mahikeng.

The family of a man who was shot dead in Mahikeng on Thursday night is disputing the police's version that he was a robber on the run.

Thato Motale, 30, was shot on Thursday amid violent protests against North West premier Supra Mahumapelo. Protesters are calling for Mahumapelo to step down as premier.

REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko
A police officer looks on as protesters chant slogans during protests in Mahikeng, in North West. April 20, 2018.

North West police said Motale was shot dead during a high-speed chase with police in Mahikeng, but that it was not linked to the unrest.

Thato's brother, Refense Motale, 26, said the family disputes that he was a robber speeding away from the police.

"Witnesses at the scene told me that at around 3pm, there was an exchange of words between my brother and police officers known to him."

Refense said he was not sure what the argument was about.

Instant death

"I was told that he drove away in a bid to not let the argument get heated."

Thato was driving one of the Toyota Quantum taxis he owned at the time of the incident.

"There were about five of his friends in the taxi with him. They drove and managed to flee from the police, but the police followed them after the altercation."

Refense said his brother managed to get out of the police's sight but later, they met in a small street in town.

"Without saying anything the police shot at the vehicle and we were later called to the scene."

Refense said his brother, who was a member of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), died instantly.

Gunshots to the head

"When we got to the scene his friends were outside the vehicle and were tied with what appeared to be cable ties.

"I had to force my way through the crowd and the police, because the police would not allow me to get close to the vehicle. I froze when I saw my brother's lifeless body slouching under the driver's seat."

He said he thought his brother didn't stand a chance, because there was no medical assistance.

"I was stunned, because I could not understand why someone would shoot him twice in the head. There were no weapons in the taxi, and my brother was not a troublemaker."

Refense said his family wanted answers.

"He was a member of the SANDF. He has never been in trouble. He was running two taverns, and he was a taxi owner." He suspects a personal vendetta.

MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images
Bystanders and foreign nationals stand at a crossroad on April 20, 2018, as protest continued for a second day in the North West capital of Mahikeng.

Seeking justice

Refense said his devastated mother was a police captain in the same police station – Mahikeng police station – where the officers were stationed.

"I am sure it had something to do with my mother's work," he claimed. "She has been working there for a while now, and I think there were issues of jealousy at the police station. But what I am certain of, is that it had nothing to do with the protest."

Refense said his brother's death showed that there was no justice.

"The police must be investigated for murder. The police here use their uniforms to carry out their personal vendettas," he alleged.

He said the father of two was a friendly and kind man.

"My mother is weak. She cannot believe that this has happened. She does not understand how her own colleagues working in the same police station could kill her son. They need to explain why they did it."

STRINGER / AFP / Getty Images
Police after clashes with residents and protesters in North West on April 20, 2018.

IPID investigation

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) spokesperson Moses Dlamini said he was aware of the incident.

"We sent our members to investigate a case where a person was killed in a kombi. We are probing the death, where policemen were allegedly involved."

SANDF spokesperson Brigadier-General Mafi Mgobhozi confirmed that the deceased was a member of the army stationed in Mafikeng.

"As the SANDF, our chief and the minister, we send our deepest condolences to the friends and family of our member.

"It is most unfortunate and painful that the life of our member was ended by one of our own security forces," said Mgobhozi.

Thato is expected to be buried next Saturday.

– News24