Cape Town - “I said no, please don’t kill me – but he pulled the trigger.” From his hospital bed on Thursday, this was how a City of Cape Town traffic officer described the moments before he was shot in his home on Wednesday night, allegedly by a taxi driver.
The Cape Argus is not naming the officer, and the image published here hides his face to protect his life – as it appears he was targeted for being a traffic officer.
At 4pm on Thursday, he underwent surgery to have a bullet removed from his knee, and he told the Cape Argus moments before: “At 6.45 on Wednesday evening, I went to my bed, just to have a rest.”
He had come off duty and was tired. He is aged 49 and has spent the past 18 years in the service of Cape Town traffic. “At 7.20pm, three guys came into the house. They didn’t knock. They asked ‘who’s the main ou?’”
They forced his girlfriend and their child, a 7-year-old boy, into the bathroom, and then came for him. “They came into my room. They asked again: ‘Are you a main ou?’
“I said no, the chief is in Cape Town.
“They shouted: ‘Don’t tell lies! You’re busy taking, impounding our vans.”
“I said I’m not working with the taxi unit, but with Operation Reclaim.”
Operation Reclaim is the city’s campaign to bring to book motorists with outstanding fines or, more seriously, outstanding warrants of arrest from unpaid fines.
“They asked: ‘Where’s your gun?’
“I said I had no gun. And then one said: ‘Lie down, I must kill you.’
“I said no, this is wrong, what did I do wrong? When I looked at his face, I knew him – he’s a taxi driver. And then he pulled the trigger,” the officer said.
The gunman was about to fire again when one of his companions warned that the first shot may have been heard by neighbours and the three men fled, said Richard Bosman, the City of Cape Town’s executive director of safety and security.
The officer continued his account: “When they ran out, I went to my radio, called control and they sent the Ghost Squad guys to fetch me.” His girlfriend and son screamed when the shot was fired, and later tried to stop the flow of blood from his leg.
He was visited in hospital on Thursday by Bosman and mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith.
In a statement on Thursday, Smith said: “In another incident last night, stones were thrown at the home of a female city traffic officer attached to the department’s education section. Fortunately, no one was injured.
“I cannot help but think that these callous acts are related to the events of earlier this week. There have been rumours that disgruntled taxi drivers are out to target our staff.
“We will not tolerate this kind of behaviour and I can assure any elements who think that they can intimidate us that their strategy will not work.”