Aziz Hartley, Shain Germaner and Sapa
A POLICE officer was arrested yesterday suspected of kidnapping and extortion after officers had earlier accidentally shot and wounded hip-hop star Khuli Chana in a case of mistaken identity, Gauteng police said.
The officer was a detective from Silverton, Pretoria, Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said.
“Police have launched a manhunt for five other suspects who were involved in the kidnapping. The police officer will appear at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court within 48 hours,” he said.
Earlier, Dlamini said a case of attempted murder was being investigated after Chana was shot. Police from Bedfordview, Johannesburg, were tracking kidnappers and mistook Chana’s luxury sedan for that of the kidnappers.
“It is alleged that as police were trying to stop the vehicle it drove away at a high speed. Several shots were fired and the driver lost control. The driver sustained gunshot wounds,” said Dlamini.
A case of kidnapping was reported in Bedfordview and the kidnappers demanded a ransom from the victim’s family, Dlamini said. The victim’s family was instructed to leave the ransom money at the Caltex petrol station on the N1 highway in Midrand. Bedfordview police arrived at the garage, saw Chana’s car, and mistook him for a kidnapper.
An internal investigation was under way.
Chana, whose real name is Khulane Morule, had been discharged from hospital, his publicist Sheila Afari said.
“He is shaken by the shooting as it came out of nowhere and there was no warning from the police whatsoever. He is recovering at home.”
The Institute for Security Studies said the problem of trigger-happy officers was again under the spotlight .
“This case has to be investigated and a finding made, but if you look at the civil claims lodged against the police each year where police allegedly opened fire (on) suspects, it shows there is a structural problem,” said Gareth Newham, the institute’s programme head of crime and justice.
Newham said yesterday
civil claims of R14 billion were lodged against police last year, twice the 2011 claims.
“It is a structural problem. Many officers do not follow protocol (using a firearm) and it leads to people getting injured or killed. The problem stems from poor training and lack of discipline,” he said.
Police were allowed to shoot in rare circumstances such as when their own lives or the lives of other people were directly in danger, Newham said.
“You can’t just open fire. Even if a suspect is driving away. All use of force must be minimal,” he said.
However, these shots ended up piercing the side of the car, and according to Chana’s manager Refiloe Ramogase, a bullet became lodged in his index finger on his right hand, and a bullet that hit his driver’s seat burst into fragments which hit his back. Ramogase said that the artist was on his way to a gig in Pretoria, and had stopped at the station at midnight.
Stephen Tuson, lecturer in criminal law and procedure at Wits University, told eNCA: “There are some serious questions police have to answer. Was he (Chana) a threat? Was he armed?”
Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said they launched a probe into the shooting.
He would not be drawn on whether police brutality was a serious problem, but said Ipid had last year investigated 670 complaints that had involved discharging of police firearms. “In some of those cases nobody was injured.”