A police officer who allegedly shot a member of the public dead in a tavern two weeks ago is being investigated for murder by the police oversight directorate.
The Middledrift officer was allegedly drunk and sitting in a police bakkie when he got out and fired four shots at point blank range, killing an apparently unarmed Mbuyiseli Shume, 42.
According to Shume’s widow, Phelokazi Mkhokeli, 28, the well known detective, whose name is known to the Dispatch, killed Shume in front of her at 3pm on a Sunday afternoon.
Mkhokeli said she was walking to the shop with her husband when they saw the officer, who was holding a quart (750ml) beer bottle while sitting in a police 4×4 Ford Ranger outside the busy Esibaneni Tavern.
“He yelled, ‘Hey you Mbuyiseli! Do not step closer to me if you know what is good for you. I heard that you are planning to shoot me’.”
Shume said her shocked husband pulled up his T-shirt to show the officer that he was unarmed.
“My husband was shot three times in the stomach.
“He fired the three shots from the passenger side of the bakkie and then got out to fire a fourth shot in the forehead while my husband was on his knees.”
Thembinkosi Stali, who was drinking on dusty patch outside the tavern, said that after the killing of Shume, the officer had yelled that no one should get closer to him or the corpse.
“The victim was on his knees holding his wounded stomach asking the officer why he was shooting him, but the officer finished him off anyway.”
Stali said the officer was in the company of his patrol partner and there were also three civilians in the police double-cab.
He said the officer’s duty partner had gone into the tavern to buy more booze.
“The officer who did the shooting got out the bakkie, went to nearest table outside the tavern and took a beer from his cousin, whom he accused of being stingy, and went back to the car to drink it.”
Esibaneni owner Phakamisa Kani said he was assisting the officer’s partner when he heard three gunshots.
“We all rushed outside to investigate and saw Shume down. We raced to him but the police officer got there first and shot him in the face.”
Shume’s widow said she had given up her ukuzila (widow’s mourning ritual) and fled their home.
“I left after the funeral because I am scared of that cop. I saw what happened and he is not behind bars but roaming around this place.”
Shume was buried on Saturday at his Tyali village house.
Shume’s sister, Ntombinaye, said residents of the small prison town live in fear of the police, who allegedly run the town like “cowboys”.
Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesman Moses Dlamini said no arrest had been made.
“We are still investigating the matter but at the moment there are no developments.
“We urge the people to report any kind of police brutality, even if they feel intimidated or threatened by police.” — firstname.lastname@example.org