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Johannesburg - Khuli Chana has been branded an “idiot and a diabolical liar” by the friends of the kidnap victim in the bizarre twist of events that led to the musician being shot by police.
The friends of Ali Haji - who was kidnapped from his home on Sunday night - said that Chana was not an innocent victim as he had tried to run over police officers who had flagged him down at the roadblock.
The lawyer of one of these men, Eric Bryer, said his client witnessed the shooting and the friend called Chana “an idiot and a diabolical liar” over the musician’s version of events.
Haji was with police in Pretoria after he had been abandoned by his kidnappers there. One man – a constable – has so far been arrested for his kidnapping.
His ordeal started at about 7.30pm on Sunday after four men arrived at his Bedfordview home claiming to be police investigating a crime.
“In the house was Haji, his wife, their one-year-old and a friend,” said Bryer.
The four men are alleged to have tied Haji up, pepper-sprayed him and put a plastic bag over his head.
They “roughed up” Haji and stole watches, cellphones and R10 000 in cash, Bryer said.
Two of the men then drove Haji to Pretoria in his own car while the other two left in the vehicle they had arrived in.
When the kidnappers drove away, the victim’s wife called Bedfordview police, who together with the Hawks set up a sting to nab the suspects. Haji’s friends were to tell the abductors that they would pay the ransom.
“They first asked for R100 000 then there must’ve been 10 phone calls and they increased it to R500 000 and a kilo of cocaine or heroin,” Bryer said.
Eventually, the friends told the kidnappers they had managed to get together R200 000 and agreed to drop the money in a box in the toilet of the Caltex petrol station at New Road in Midrand.
Police then set a trap, with nothing more than a loaf of bread in the box and an officer in waiting in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, the alleged kidnappers abandoned Haji in his car in Pretoria and after some time he was able to untie himself and get help from the nearest police station. The officers then drove him to the Midrand Caltex garage which was by then surrounded by police vehicles – some parked inside while others guarded the off-ramp.
At about midnight, Chana, real name Khulane Morule, drove in to the filling station. His manager, Refiloe Ramogase, said the 31-year-old artist was on his way to a gig in Pretoria at the time – driving a blue BMW. The Hawks had received intelligence indicating the kidnapper was driving a grey BMW, said Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.
As Chana left the station, he was shot at after allegedly failing to stop at the blockade of police vehicles on the N1 off-ramp.
These shots – which police say were warning shots – ended up piercing the side of Chana’s car and, according to his manager Refiloe Ramogase, a bullet became lodged in Chana’s index finger, while bullet shrapnel hit his back.
Chana was taken to hospital, but was discharged at about 5am on Monday. On Monday night, he was in shock and heavily sedated at home, according to his girlfriend, who declined to give her name.
Relatives had also dropped in to visit, and a Southern African Music Rights Organisation representative arrived shortly after 8pm to drop off flowers for Chana.
Ramogase confirmed Chana would be laying charges against the SAPS.
Dlamini said the incident would be probed by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
DA police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard has condemned the shooting, claiming the SAPS’s mentality of shoot to kill was still “alive and well”.
But Bryer said on Tuesday morning Chana was a “liar” and that they would be giving evidence to this regard in court.
The alleged kidnapper, a 32-year-old constable from the Silverton police station, was arrested at the filling station shortly before the shooting incident.
The man, whose name is known to The Star, is expected to appear in the Germiston Regional Court on Wednesday, said Dlamini.
He said a manhunt was on for five other men believed to have worked with the arrested constable.