Sphesihle Zikalala, 33, was shot twice in the back of the head and neck allegedly by members of the Tactical Response Team from Durban after he bought electricity at a shop in Steadville, Ladysmith, on Monday morning.
Sphesihle Zikalala, 33, was shot twice in the back of the head and neck allegedly by members of the Tactical Response Team from Durban after he bought electricity at a shop in Steadville, Ladysmith, on Monday morning.

Lockdown: 'Police shot me in neck and head for buying electricity'

By Chris Ndaliso Time of article published Apr 24, 2020

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Durban - A visit to a spaza shop to buy electricity became a nightmare for a 33-year-old Ladysmith man who was shot in the head and neck with rubber bullets, allegedly by police officers.

Sphesihle Zikalala, 33, said he had gone into town to buy groceries on Monday morning.

“I realised that I had forgotten to buy electricity so when I returned to my area (Steadville), I went to the local spaza shop not far from home. I was leaving the shop when this VW kombi with its sliding doors wide open stopped next to me,” Zikalala said.

He said the officers demanded to know what he was doing in the street.

“I still had my grocery bags from town and the electricity from the spaza shop but they didn’t bother to ask for receipts or look into the plastic bags.

“The male officers told me at the count of three I must be nowhere near the area. At least one of the officers pleaded my case, telling her colleagues I couldn’t run because of the parcels I was carrying, but they all just laughed,” he said.

As he tried to walk quickly, he said he heard shots and something hit him in the back of his head and another in the neck. Blood streamed down his left side and he realised he was shot.

His uncle, Dumisani Dlamini, said it was scary people got shot at for buying food and electricity.

“What if he had died from the injuries? Why did they aim for his head? Something has to be done because it would seem that some of the police officers do not know what their mandate is. My nephew could not have committed a crime by going to the shops for essential items. Action must be taken against the culprits.”

Zikalala reported the incident at the Ladysmith police station. He said he was told the case would be handled by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo referred the Daily News to Ipid, who had not commented at the time of publication.

The Police Portfolio Committee, which was expected to receive an update from Ipid on the cases of abuse of power by police during the lockdown, postponed its intended “virtual meeting” yesterday.

“The committee considers this meeting necessary and urgent. However, to avoid any possible duplication, the committee has had to postpone the Wednesday meeting, as it intends holding a joint meeting with the Select Committee on Security and Justice to ensure a more comprehensive interrogation of issues,” committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said.

Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele said earlier this week there was a “significant drop” across most crime categories. “We will, at an appropriate time after the lockdown, give a comprehensive crime picture as we are yet to table the 2019/2020 crime statistics to Parliament. At this stage, we have compared crime for the period 27 March 2020 to 20 April 2020, to the same period in 2019, and we welcome the decrease in especially contact crime and trio crimes – both crime categories that are known to instil fear and terror among our citizens,” he said.

He said a similar comparison had shown a remarkable decrease for domestic-related crimes such as murder, attempted murder, rape and sexual assault.

Daily News

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