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Johannesburg - A police officer questioning a man who was apparently smoking dagga in Soweto paid with his life when the man - said to be mentally unstable - stabbed him in the neck.
The injured De Villiers Ramatsitsi, 47, then shot Dennis Singeni, 48, twice, and he died on the scene. Ramatsitisi died of his injuries later in hospital.
The incident happened just outside Singeni’s home as the nation celebrated Women’s Day on Thursday.
Singeni’s distraught sister, Bukiswa Vezi, said her brother sustained two gunshot wounds - in the abdomen and in the head. She said Singeni was mentally disabled.
Vezi said she was not at home at the time of the incident. She had gone to town and left her two children with Singeni. “The children were watching the Olympics on TV when they heard the gunshots. I received a ‘please call me’, and when I called, they told me that their uncle was shot,” said Vezi.
She said Singeni was standing by the gate when a police van pulled up next to him. The police officer, Ramatsitsi, got out of the car and approached Singeni, she said. He apparently accused Singeni of smoking dagga and wanted to search him.
A struggle ensued, during which Singeni allegedly stabbed Ramatsitsi in the neck with a bread knife. According to a police report, when Ramatsitsi tried to run away, Singeni pursued him. Ramatsitsi then drew his gun and fired shots at Singeni, fatally wounding him.
Another police officer at the scene rushed Ramatsitsi to Lesedi Private Clinic in Diepkloof without first calling for backup or emergency services to respond to the scene, said Vezi.
“He was mentally disabled. We knew his faults but he was still my brother and a child of this house,” she said. “For someone to come and shoot him like a dog and then leave him there… No, no,” an emotional Vezi said.
“I want to know why he was shot. I want to know why the police didn’t call for backup. I want answers and I will not rest until I find them,” she said as neighbours and church members filled the house to offer their condolences.
In Pimville, Ramatsitsi’s family were also mourning the death of their loved one.
His brother, Francis Raluswinga, said the death had taken the family by surprise. “My brother was a dedicated man of the law. He joined the police force in 1991. We are obviously still in shock but we have received great support from the police,” said Raluswinga, who is also a policeman.
He could not comment about the case as it is still under investigation, but he said he was not satisfied with the medical care his brother received at the clinic. He died at 5pm and the stabbing happened at 1pm.
“The officer who was with him said he wasn’t bleeding heavily and could hold a conversation well. I don’t know what happened from there,” he said.
Orlando police spokesman Warrant Officer Bongani Mhlongo confirmed the incident. “It is very unfortunate what happened. It is always a sad day when we lose one of our members,” he said, extending his condolences to both families.
Ramatsitsi will be buried with full police honours because he died in the line of duty. He leaves behind his wife and two children. - The Star