010710. At his office in Bedfordview, Ekurhuleni. The new Ekurhuleni Metro Police Chief Hlula Msimang who replaced the former Ekurhuleni Metro Police Chief Robert McBride. 384 Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

Johannesburg - Five years ago, a Gauteng metro police chief shot dead a man he said was a hijacker in a freeway shooting - but the case is still open and investigators say the shooting might not have been justified.

Late on the night of Christmas Eve 2007, Vincent Marran was shot dead on the southbound N1 highway in Midrand.

His family still don’t understand it and want to know what happened to the police investigation. “You don’t know what your rights are as a family,” said Yvette Williams, Marran’s sister. “Five years and we don’t have answers.”

Hlula Msimang, then the chief of the Tshwane metro police and now the chief of the Ekurhuleni metro police, shot Marran. on Thursday, Msimang confirmed this through his lawyer, Bongani Khoza.

“In 2007, our client, in the course of duty and as expected of a law enforcement officer, shot dead an armed suspect in an attempted hijacking incident which he came across incidentally,” said Khoza.

“The matter was fully investigated and his actions were found to have been justified and in accordance with the law by both the then ICD and the SAPS. The matter ended there.

“We reject any insinuation of a cover-up, as the matter was fully investigated and concluded. We question the motives of those behind this story, five years after the incident. Our client is a law-abiding law enforcement officer. He acted and shall continue to act within the confines of the laws.”

Last week, Msimang appeared in court on a charge of murder over the shooting of a man in Bryanston in February. Msimang has said this was in self-defence against an intruder. The National Prosecuting Authority has been unable to produce a charge sheet.

The NPA instruction to charge Msimang with murder for this was issued on September 7, but it was three months before it went to court, just days after The Star started asking officials questions about it.

This week, The Star tried to piece together what happened in the 2007 shooting.

Marran, 32, was driving a Mazda Soho 140i when he stopped at the Allandale N1 off-ramp, got out of his car and tried to flag down a taxi.

His family believe he was chased, as his car was badly damaged and he ran out of petrol. His gun was found at the scene; Williams said the police had told her it wasn’t fired.

Williams said Marran’s car had a bullet hole in it, and one tyre was shredded to the rim. Freeway cameras recorded him, but not the shooting.

A report by a police detective at the scene just after midnight noted the body “lying in the middle of the road with a bullet wound in his chest. Next to him was a silver revolver loaded.” The Soho was there, as was Msimang’s Range Rover.

“Driver of the Range Rover introduced himself as the one who shot the deceased and stated that the deceased pointed a gun at him,” said the detective’s report.

Police said the Range Rover driver had said Marran had pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him.

“He tried to calm the deceased in front of witnesses but the deceased kept pointing at him until he decided to shoot the deceased,” said a police officer. Marran, right-handed, was shot in the left hand and chest.

Blood-alcohol tests show Marran was drunk, with alcohol levels four times the legal limit.

The insurance company confirmed that Marran’s car was written off in what was logged as an attempted hijacking.

Outsurance spokeswoman Natasha Kawulesar said the car was badly scraped along the right-hand side and apparently hit the central highway barrier. Photographs show a hole in the driver’s door, which may have been a bullet hole.

The Star could not get an explanation for the five-year delay in the investigation.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said:

“There are statements of witnesses which indicate that the deceased had blocked traffic and he had pointed a firearm at Mr Msimang and other people.

“Our assessment of the evidence indicates that the shooting may not have been justified.

“We have already taken the docket to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision whether to prosecute or not. We await that decision.”

The SAPS initially said the case was still at the Midrand police station, then referred the matter to the Gauteng provincial office, which ignored repeated requests for comment on the delayed investigation.

On Wednesday, the NPA’s Joburg region spokeswoman, Phindi Louw, said the case had not been handed over to prosecutors. She did not respond to requests for an update on Thursday.

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The Star