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Police shoot, dump victim

GREG KELEBONYE 2014-10-28 17:25:53 PHP5B7D.TMP.JPG
Bapi Mokgosi
The man, Bapi Mokgosi of Metsimotlhabe was admitted at the hospitalís Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on October 10 with two near fatal gun wounds.

One bullet went in through his back, passed within millimeters of his spine, and missed his heart by less than a centimeter.  Another went through his chest, a couple of centimetres above his heart.  But it was not Bapi’s day to die; as yet another bullet went clean through his front windscreen, passing less than a centimeter of his head. Bapi and his family are however dismayed by the attitude of the police following the shooting.

“I was coming from prayer at Mahatlane hill near BDF camp and decided to use the Mogoditshane Block 9 gravel road. A white van, which I think was a Nissan was parked by the roadside. As I passed, it flashed its lights for me to stop. Thinking the occupants could be criminals I did not stop. But then I realised from my rear-view mirror that the vehicle was coming after me.

I increased speed with the intention to reach the Molepolole Highway. As I joined the highway, I realised the vehicle was increasing speed. I decided to drive towards Mmopane Engen Filling Station where I knew there were people. But suddenly my body went numb.I could not move my limbs. My hands became heavy, and my feet would not move. My right foot remained on the accelerator pedal and the vehicle was now speeding faster and out of my control.  A few other bullets came in. One missed my head and another went into my chest,” a tearful Bapi, who is the priest of a local indigenous church told Mmegi.

After what seemed like eternity, movement returned to his left hand and he immediately changed to neutral gear, which allowed the vehicle to slow down, then stop on its own.

“Even as the vehicle was coming to a halt, I called my brother and quickly explained to him what was happening. The men who had just shot me – it turned out they were police officers - came over to my car.  The one was a special constable and the other a sergeant. They merely glanced at me and went back to their vehicle, ” he said.  Bapi remembers noticing the name “Mosweu” on the nametag of the sergeant. He also thinks he overhead something that could shed light on why he was shot as the sergeant spoke on his two-way radio.

“I was in pain and confused, but I believe I heard the officer report that they found the Corolla, but the voice on the other side said they had the wrong vehicle,” he said. Bapi drives a “balloon shape” silver Toyota Corolla.

Piecing together the walkie-talkies conversation, Bapi realised the men who shot him had mistaken him for a criminal.

In the meantime, a police vehicle with a blue flashing light arrived. The officers in the vehicle with the flashing mars disembarked, came to his vehicle, and demanded to see his driver’s licence.

“At that time I was bleeding heavily.  My brother arrived just then,

and seeing my brother, the men came to my vehicle and asked me where I was hurting.  Of course my whole body was hurting. They pulled me out of my car and placed me face down in their van. They claimed the ambulance was delaying,” said Bapi.

His brother Alakanani adds: “ They had not gone far when the ambulance arrived. They transferred him into the ambulance and went back to their car. I followed in mine.” 

Alakanani was appalled when, instead of accompanying his brother to the hospital, the police decided to turn into Mogoditshane police station.

“They did not even have the courtesy to explain why they did that, so I followed the ambulance.” At the hospital Bapi was whisked to the ICU. He remained at the unit for five days.

Nearly a month later, Bapi is still at the hospital, and has been to two wards – Surgical and Spinalis. The latter has to do with the injuries he suffered in the spinal area.

“I am saddened by the fact that after all this time, the police have not said why they shot me. I posed no danger to anyone. In my vehicle I only had my church attire, candles and two cellphones,” he said.

He is particularly disturbed by the fact that instead of owning up to their careless mistake, the police have now posted a sentry next to his bed.

“No one told me why the officer is by my bedside, but I heard him say to someone on his cellphone that he was watching a “robbery suspect,” said Bapi as tears streamed down his face.  Bapi said the only police officer who ever came to see him was someone called Nduna. Although he took Bapi’s statement, he has not come back to explain to him what is happening. “I suspect the officers who shot me and their friends are trying o cover up by intimidating me and creating stories about robbery. I have tried to get someone senior from the police service, for him to at least appreciate my situation, but to date, no one has come,” he said. His damaged car and one of his cellphones remain in the custody of the police.

His brother said they were made to believe the sentry was posted to protect him.

“Our understanding is that the sentry is there to protect him from the officers who shot him,” said Alakanani.

Asked about the incident Mogoditshane Police Station Commander Superintendent Nkwebi Chilisa said he could only have the answer today.  “Perhaps I am not very familiar with the case, but I doubt we would fail to take care of someone we shot. I am not in all the time, and that may be a case I have not been briefed on,” he said. Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Chris Mbulawa was said to be on leave. Internal Affairs Head, Senior Assistant Commissioner Matthews Letsholo was said to be on a trip.




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