Myeni’s family believes he was racially targeted
DURBAN - THE family of Lindani Myeni, who was shot dead by Hawaii police in Honolulu on Wednesday, believe his death was an act of racism.
Born in Empangeni, the 29-year- old former rugby player had moved with his wife and children to the island early last year.
Myeni, who went to George Campbell Technical High School, was killed when police said they were responding to a home burglary incident. It is not clear what Myeni was doing outside the home.
When the police arrived at the scene, a scuffle ensued between Myeni and the three police officers.
It is alleged that Myeni punched and injured three officers, with one of the officers opening fire and shooting him four times.
Myeni’s uncle, Andlile Xaki, said that the family was emotionally disturbed by the incident.
He described Myeni as a loving person who loved his family, his wife Lindsay, and his two children, aged 3 years, and 5 months.
He added that Myeni was not a violent person or a thief.
Xaki said that they received a call from Myeni’s friend in Hawaii alerting them to the incident. “The house that Lindani allegedly went through is just five houses away from his home on the same street, so they knew him,” said Xaki.
According to Xaki, Myeni was the only black person in the neighbourhood, and they viewed this incident as being fuelled by racism.
Myeni’s death comes as the US is dealing with several incidents of black, unarmed men dying at the hands of police.
The death of George Floyd, who died when a police officer kneeled on his neck, sparked months of Black Lives Matter protests in the US and globally.
Xaki said Myeni’s wife, Lindsay, had written to the family in February to update them about life in Hawaii.
He said that in the letter, Lindsay mentioned that they were facing a lot of racism directed at her husband.
“She also raised concern about how this was affecting Lindani, their children, and the family.”
Xaki detailed that Myeni had been taking care of his unwell 79-year-old grandmother for many years, even after he moved to Hawaii.
“We only told her about the incident yesterday as we knew that it was going to be hard for her to deal with his tragic death while also dealing with her condition.
“She immediately broke down as soon as we told her. It’s hard, not only for her but for everyone,” revealed Xaki.
On Friday, footage from the police officer’s body camera was released by police. In the video, the officers are seen pointing a gun at an unarmed black man, identified as Myeni, while flashing a light at him.
During the release of the footage, Honolulu police acting deputy chief Allan Nagata stated that because it was dark, the police officers could not establish whether Myeni was armed.
Further, Nagata acknowledged that officers didn’t identify themselves before the shooting.
However, he said that he was impressed by how they handled the situation.
Xaki said that he had seen the video released by police.
He questioned why the police did not identify themselves, even after Myeni had asked them, “Who are you?”
“They were supposed to identify themselves. You can’t just point a gun at a person, in the dark,” said Xaki.
Xaki added that they had been in contact with Lindsay as they wanted Myeni to be buried in South Africa.
“To have him buried on this side is our wish as a family, and we have confirmed with his wife who also agrees that he must be buried in South Africa. We did send a request last week, and we are expecting a response either tomorrow (today) or this week,” Xaki said.
Meanwhile, Lindsay took to social media to express her loss in an emotional Facebook post where she described the moments before her husband was killed.
She said Myeni had gone for a drive after a fun family day and that she had spoken to him on the phone 18 minutes before the incident.
“What happened in 18 minutes? What do I tell my babies when they cry for him?” asked Lindsay.