Pretoria - A sergeant who spent four weeks in hospital after he was shot in the face in a shoot-out with members of the notorious blue-light gang has been accused of being part of criminal activities.
The sergeant was part of the crime intelligence unit that nabbed Neo Mokone two years ago.
Mokone, an accomplice of blue-light gang ringleader William “King of Bling” Mbatha, was captured when police were alerted to a robbery at China Mall in Joburg. The ensuing shoot-out and high-speed chase claimed the lives of two people and the sergeant was shot in the face.
Now, the sergeant is being accused of being part of the robbery.
A Chinese businessman had been robbed of R30 000 cash in events leading up to the deadly shoot-out - and the sergeant is now being accused of stealing the money while his colleagues battled to arrest the gang members.
A departmental investigation against the sergeant has been going on since March last year and a colonel from the Hillbrow cluster is investigating the case.
“I was in hospital for a month after the shooting. While I was on sick leave the colonel was on my case,” he said.
The bullet through the sergeant’s cheekbone damaged the hearing in his left ear and left his left eye blind.
During his recovery, the sergeant said he had to meet the colonel because a case had been opened against him for an unlicensed firearm he knew nothing about.
“The colonel called me to a meeting and told me to admit to having the money or be a witness to say I saw the exchange happen with the other officers who were on duty,” he said. The sergeant opened a case of intimidation against the colonel.
In June last year the sergeant and three other officers - identified to be part of the crime by the colonel - filed a grievance letter to the provincial head of crime intelligence. The complaint referred to intimidation and defamation of character.
But the findings stated that the allegations had no legal evidentiary proof and the matter was referred to the office of the provincial commissioner.
The officer, Pule*, who led the operation that captured Mokone, said he believed the matter was a racial one.
He said it made no sense that an officer would put his life in danger if he was part of the corruption. “Why are they only charging the sergeant when there were about eight officers on the scene?” he said.
He said the whole investigation had shifted from being about the actual criminals to being about the police officers who were only doing their job.
He believed the other suspect who fled the scene at China Mall wearing a bullet- proof police vest was connected to the missing money. “This whole situation derailed us from finding the actual culprit who is still at large,” said Pule.
The officers said they now found it difficult to perform their duties to the best of their abilities. “Mokone wouldn’t have gone down alone if we were involved. It doesn’t make sense,” he said.
Mokone was sentenced to 36 years in prison last month.
Police spokeswoman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale had not responded to questions by time of going to print.
* Not his real name