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Johannesburg - In the hours before his death, Constable Goodman Lubisi appeared to be in a pensive mood.
The chatty cop with the gold tooth was well liked in Sandton, said a friend. But last Wednesday afternoon, Lubisi, or Gift as he was known to his friends, wasn’t his usual talkative self. He was in his police uniform, and his silence worried his friend.
“I asked him if he was tired, and he replied ‘No, I’m not tired, I’m just thinking’,” said the friend, who did not want to be named because of fears that he will be harassed for speaking to the media.
What the friend didn’t know was that Lubisi had been celebrating his 31st birthday.
And, just more than 12 hours later, the policeman would be dead. The cop died when the Audi R8 he was in, crashed into a tree.
Why the constable was in the car remains a mystery, as does why – so many hours after his friend had seen him – he was still in police uniform and presumably on duty.
Lubisi was also remembered by his colleagues at a service on Tuesday.
“He would always say ‘you guys are my friends, but if you break the law, I’ll put you in my African bangles’,” he said, adding that bangles was slang for handcuffs.
“This was a joyride… and this other cop is trying to (save face),” the friend said.
He was referring to the official police version of events alleging that police officers had found dagga in the Audi during a search and that the driver, Areff Haffejee, had sped off while Lubisi was still conducting the search.
Police also said this had led to a high-speed chase for about 7km along Oxford and Rivonia roads. Perhaps, said the friend, the joyride had been a birthday gift that went horribly wrong.
On Tuesday, at a service, police officers from the Sandton police station honoured their fallen comrade.
According to his obituary, Lubisi was born in Bushbuckridge in 1982. After matriculating in 2000, he studied at Unisa. He joined the SAPS in 2008.
“Goodman was the Sandton celeb. He knew everybody, from the good guys to the bad guys, but he wasn’t a bad guy,” said the friend.
The friend dismissed claims that he might have planted dagga.
He said he believed Lubisi would never frame someone for money.
The friend also said the constable was not with his usual partner and that the officer in the police van that was following the Audi must explain what happened.
Meanwhile, a source at the provincial investigative unit for Gauteng slammed reports that the police docket for the crash had gone missing, and said it had been handed over to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate