Durban - A Phoenix teenager is fighting for his life in hospital after two police reservists allegedly fired five shots at him, hitting him in the back and elbow.
After the incident on Saturday night, the 16-year-old reportedly told his uncle the reservists had allegedly ordered him to run so that they could shoot him in the back.
However, the Phoenix reservists, who are facing charges of attempted murder, claimed that they opened fire on the boy after he allegedly tried to attack them with a knife.
At the time, they were responding to a fight that had broken out during a pool contest at a sports bar in Brookdale, Phoenix.
The Grade 9 pupil underwent emergency surgery on Tuesday to remove one of the bullets lodged in his chest.
He remains in a critical condition at Addington Hospital.
The teenager, whose father died in 2005 and who is estranged from his mother, lives with his uncle in Brookdale.
On Tuesday, the distraught uncle said he was calling for a full investigation into the shooting.
“He was shot in the back. That immediately tells me that something is wrong,” he said. “I have spoken to police and hope to get answers by the end of the week.”
He described his nephew as a “good boy” and said he was surprised at the claims that he had attempted to attack the police reservists with a knife.
“He was taken to Gandhi Memorial Hospital on Saturday night. When I got there, the policemen disappeared. My nephew was still conscious at the time,” he said.
“I asked him what had happened. He said the policemen had told him to run so they could shoot him in the back. I was shocked.
“Even if he did wrong, who fires five shots at a young boy? I also find it strange that a young boy would want to attack two armed policemen… it is very strange.”
The man said his nephew was expected to remain in hospital for at least another three weeks.
According to a police source, a pool contest was being hosted at R&V Sports Bar on Saturday night when a scuffle broke out.
The source said it was alleged that the teenager had stabbed one of the patrons.
“The police were called out and the reservists responded. The stabbed patron gave a description of his attacker and the reservists went out to look for him.”
The alleged attacker was spotted a few metres down the street from the bar.
“The 16-year-old teenager was stopped and searched. A bloodied knife was allegedly found in his possession. The knife was seized and the teenager was taken back to the bar so the stabbed patron could identify him,” the source said.
At the bar, the reservists claimed the teenager grabbed another knife and lunged at them, he said, adding that they then fired a total of five shots - two of which hit the suspect.
Investigators from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, which probes police conduct in fatalities, were called out, the source said, but left because no-one had died.
The source said police at the scene opened attempted murder charges against the reservists after it was found that they had allegedly used more force than allowed by law.
“Suspicions were also raised because the boy was shot in the back. A lot of loose ends don’t tie up.”
Police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane, confirmed the incident, saying: “During the arrest, the suspect became violent and attempted to stab the officers with a knife. The members, fearing for their lives, fired shots, wounding the suspect in the body.”
The teen is expected to face charges of attempted murder and assault.