Police can’t be defeated by untrained criminals, says EFF

5-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane was shot and killed at Soshanguve Block UU on Friday evening. Photograph: Twitter

5-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane was shot and killed at Soshanguve Block UU on Friday evening. Photograph: Twitter

Published May 13, 2024


In the wake of the outcry over the brutal shooting of 5-year-old Ditebogo Junior Phalane in Soshanguve, Pretoria, caught in the crossfire of a hijacking, there have been calls for increased law enforcement efforts to curb the spike of crime in the area.

Just weeks after popular soul and R&B DJ and radio personality Peter Mashata was shot in Soshanguve on April 20, after performing at Epozini lifestyle, the community has been hard hit once more by criminal activity.

This comes after police on Saturday confirmed that a five-year-old boy was shot on Friday evening after he had gone to welcome his father when he arrived home at 10.30pm.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Mavela Masondo said information at their disposal indicated that an unconfirmed number of armed suspects allegedly hijacked the father’s Toyota bakkie and shot the boy, who later died in hospital.

Masondo said police had opened a case of murder and hijacking for investigation and were searching for the suspects.

EFF commissar Dr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, speaking to the Soshanguve station commander following a visit to the family home of Ditebogo on Sunday, said he could not accept that the police in the country were completely compromised, and that they could be defeated by people who were not trained.

“You are taken through rigorous training to fight violence. I can’t accept that the situation in Soshanguve can completely defeat you. Perhaps you can tell me what this big problem is,” he questioned.

The station commander said it was a heartbreaking state of affairs that a child should lose their life while their parents were co-operating with the criminals.

He added that he had already given priority for the matter to be investigated at the district level, with police already embarking on additional efforts to reconstruct the scene and check local cameras to ensure a broad investigation was conducted.

Ndlozi said the father had taken him through the events of what happened, and explained how he (the father) did not understand why they had shot as they wanted the vehicle and he was co-operative.

Ndlozi said the father described how it appeared that one of the other men holding a gun to his head seemed to be on some substance and rather ‘trigger happy’. He stressed that there was no need for them to shoot his son.

Grandmother Flora Phalane, who described Junior as a smart child, said she believed her grandson would be at peace once the perpetrators responsible for his killing were brought to book.

“I think he will be happy and find peace with whatever happened to him.”

Forensic Investigator Calvin Rafadi said one of the solutions law enforcement should consider in addressing not just hijackings, theft of cars but even cash-in-transit heists, was better regulation of places that produced licence plates, given that most crimes were committed using another vehicle.

Rafadi said serious loopholes existed in the country which practically enabled anyone to copy another vehicle’s licence plates without producing the necessary documents such as identification or a driver’s licence.

“As a result, you can get a new licence plate from a handwritten note with no additional proof and go on to commit more crimes without it being picked up.

“The need for regulation is dire because criminals can now take the number plate of the same car, same brand, same colour and now they can manufacture a licence disc which can scan during roadblocks too. There are houses in Soshanguve and Mabopane where they are cutting licence plates unhindered and unregulated,” he said.

Rafadi said these places had to be regulated not only through the South African Bureau of Standards but also by the police in order to cut off crime at the base.

“The reality is that the by-laws need to be enforced, and the traffic department needs to close up these shops as they are well known and they have mushroomed all over the place. So you can only imagine how many fake licence plates and documents are being manufactured in a week in these back-door places.

“Even if you bring drones it will not work because in most cases you find that the car’s details have been modified to match that of another which has not been stolen. Things are so bad that these criminals even go to the extent of duplicating police high-speed vehicles.”

He added that licence department officials were also key in curbing the criminals as they provide them with information which revealed the details of cars, where it resides, who it belongs to, the engine and chassis number, which is what the criminals used to correspond with their next target.

“There is a floodgate of criminality at the licence department and they need to put in a system whereby anyone who logs in an enquiry on a particular car or details, the system then sends an OTP to the owner of vehicle to alert them of the query,” he said.

Meanwhile, Patriotic Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie is offering a R250 000 reward to anyone who can identify the killers of Ditebogo.

In a statement on Sunday, the African Transformation Movement said: “The ATM is deeply saddened and disturbed by the tragic and senseless killing of Ditebogo Junior Phalane during a hijacking in Soshanguve.

“This incident highlights what the ATM has been advocating for – the need for enhanced measures to address crime and ensure the safety of our communities.”

The Star