LEN Cloete was shot after a verbal altercation with police at the Misty Hills Lodge in Muldersdrift at the weekend. Picture: Facebook
LEN Cloete was shot after a verbal altercation with police at the Misty Hills Lodge in Muldersdrift at the weekend. Picture: Facebook

Muldersdrift shooting: ‘I would have shot him in the head too,’ says ex Durban cop turned PI

By Se-Anne Rall Time of article published Nov 17, 2021

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DURBAN – Former police officer-turned-private-investigator Brad Nathanson says he would have reacted the same way police in Muldersdrift did if he were in their shoes. However, he said police could have handled the situation in a different way but using other means of force including pepper spray to subdue Len Cloete.

Cloete was shot following a verbal altercation with police at the Misty Hills Lodge in Muldersdrift at the weekend. He is said to be in a coma however, is in a stable condition in hospital.

“I am an ex-policeman and I can tell you this, if I were on the scene that day, the moment that the suspect shouted ‘Waar is my gun?’ (where is my gun) and went to fetch it from where it was kept in the room that he was staying, I would have drawn my weapon and been prepared for the suspect no matter what he went to fetch.

“The moment I saw a gun in his hand I would have warned him verbally and if he raised that firearm, I would have shot him, likely in the head, so as to immobilise him and so as to protect myself from being shot along with my colleagues," said Nathanson, who has worked on high profile cases including the Siam Lee kidnap/murder investigation.

In a post on his Facebook page which has garnered more than 1 000 likes and 430 shares, Nathanson said there was no way for police to have fired a warning shot.

“The police and suspect were in one room of the guest house. The ricochet from a warning shot may have been fatal to one of the SAPS members whether fired into the floor or into the ceiling. It has also been suggested that police should have shot the suspect in the foot. How was this then going to stop him from pulling the trigger of the pistol that he had forcibly and unlawfully removed from a SAPS member?" he said.

Nathanson said the video clip of the incident which has gone viral, was not a true reflection of the entire event.

“We cannot see what happened before the incident that was recorded on a mobile phone. For me, the police shot the suspect too late and by missing their first opportunity, allowed the second controversial shooting to occur.

“Whether you agree with the shooting or not, the questions begs, ‘Why did the suspect think that he could get away with disarming a uniformed member of the SAPS who was only there to do her job and what did he intend to do with the weapon?’ Nothing good can come out of abusing the police physically and verbally and then going on to disarm one of them as is now obvious,” Nathanson said.

He also touched on police training, saying that officers are under-trained.

“Especially for an incident such as this. Those attending members looked like deer in headlights,” he said.

Nathanson said he did not believe the officer who fired the shot, hitting Cloete in the head, was “particularly proud of himself”.

“I am sure that the policewoman who was disarmed is not feeling too clever but this entire incident could have been averted if handled in a different way. What happened to spraying a suspect with tear gas and then man-handling him into handcuffs if he was behaving as aggressively as Cloete? Surely, this would have been a better option, but then it all comes back to training and being properly equipped.”

“The suspect is a big unit, already intimidating by his mere physical presence. Now imagine this unit with a gun in his hand; a gun he had just ripped from the possession of a member of the SAPS. Imagine that this big unit was unreasonable, disrespectful of the law and threatening in his demeanour. What would you have done?” he said.

Nathanson sent his thoughts and prayers to the Cloete family.

“I wish to say that this story is tragic and that from the get-go our thoughts and prayers go out to Len Cloete as he lies in a coma in hospital and to his friends and family who anxiously await a favourable recovery. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the attending members of the SAPS, security personnel and staff of the guest house,” he said.

Ipid is investigating the matter further. According to reports, the family have since opened an attempted murder case against the police officer who shot Cloete.

IOL

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