Cape Town - The police officers allegedly behind the fatal shooting of a Nando’s employee have been found not guilty at an internal disciplinary hearing.
This as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) confirmed on Monday that it had declined to prosecute the officers implicated in the killing of Phumeza Fudumele nearly two years ago.
Fudumele, a Dunoon resident, was killed in a hail of bullets while she and colleagues were on on their way home after working a late shift in Parklands, Table View. Their staff vehicle was shot at in Dunoon, near Milnerton.
One of Fudumele’s colleagues was wounded in the shooting on February 25, 2016.
Police had received a call that an ATM had been bombed in the Dunoon/Milnerton area. When they arrived at the scene, they found nothing.
At the time, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) said the vehicle the employees were travelling in had matched the description of a car identified as being involved in the alleged ATM bombing.
Following the incident, police instituted a disciplinary hearing against the officers.
Quizzed on the outcome of the hearing, police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana initially said it was strictly a matter between an employer and employee.
“Therefore this office cannot divulge the contents thereof,” she said.
Asked to elaborate, Rwexana said: “It is the policy of the SAPS not to discuss matters between employee and employer in the media. Other sources of information may do this, but it is against our policy, which we strictly adhere to in the Western Cape.”
Pressed further for answers, police spokesperson André Traut said: “In response to your enquiry, kindly be advised that subsequent to the recommendations made by Ipid, we initiated an internal disciplinary process which was finalised late last year. The members were found not guilty.
“It is worth mentioning that the criminal aspect of the case was dealt with by Ipid, and they should be approached for a response in this regard.”
Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini did not respond to questions before this newspaper's deadline.
NPA regional spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the director of public prosecutions (DPP) wanted a formal inquest to be held and oral evidence to be led.
“Please note that the DPP declined to prosecute on this matter as there were no reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution.
"He directed that a formal inquest be held and that oral evidence be led,” said Ntabazalila.
Fudumele’s mother, Thozama Fudumele, said she was shocked the officers were not found guilty, as well as by the NPA’s decision.
“So they are saying that they were not wrong to shoot and kill her? Is that our law in South Africa now?”
Before being informed of the decisions by the police and the NPA, she said: “I have been in contact with our lawyer and he told me that they had not received any feedback about this matter. All we want is justice for Phumeza.
“Those implicated in killing her must be accountable. It would be a sad day if her killers are let to walk free without facing consequences of their actions.
“The justice system should not be seen as protecting the perpetrators of crime,” she said.
Nando’s South African chief executive, Mike Cathie, said: “Nando’s has not been given any update on the case that, we believe, is still open and ongoing.
“Our lawyers are requesting an update and a formal response from Nando’s will be made available once this information has been received.”