Police mistakenly shot and killed two Kuils River McDonald’s staff being ferried home by taxi in the early hours of Monday March 14, less than a month after a Nando’s employee was also gunned down by police in freakishly similar circumstances.
The two staffers were killed after what appears to have been a tragic mix-up of two Qunatum taxis during a shootout in Delft between Kuils River police and suspected armed robbers who had earlier held up a Caltex garage on Nooiensfontein Road, in Kuils River.
Brackenfell police station commander Colonel Pieter Gallant said the “mix-up” claimed the lives of the two passengers in one of the taxis carrying the McDonald’s staff.
Two of the five people wounded in the incident are also McDonald’s staff. One of the dead McDonald’s employees has been identified as Noxolo Skota, 29, from Mfuleni.
Colonel Gallant said the Quantum taxis had been driving next to each other when the police exchanged gunfire with the suspect ed robbers.
According to media reports, two of the robbers were also shot dead while others managed to escape.
Last month Nando’s employees Phumeza Fudumele, 22, was killed and Zanele Dineka was wounded when police opened fire on their staff transport in Dunoon after confusing it for a vehicle used in an armed robbery.
Both that incident and now this latest one are being investigated by the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (IPID). Ipid spokesman, Robbie Raburabu, said the directorate was investigating allegations of murder and attempted murder against the involved SAPS members.
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“This kind of behaviour by police shooting at defenceless citizens cannot be tolerated,” he said.
Vuyisile Jezile, 61, from Khayelitsha, who was driving the taxi carrying the McDonald’s staff at the time, was yesterday accompanied by the owner of the taxi to his second counselling session since the incident. Mr Jezile only started working as a taxi driver in April last year.
“I still feel the pain on my leg,” he said, referring to the one bullet that grazed his leg.
He said he had been confused by the bright lights the police had shone at the taxi during the shooting.
“We also couldn’t take down the number plates because of the lights,” Mr Jezile told the Northern News.
Dan Plato, MEC for Community Safety, said he commiserated with the families friends and colleagues of those who had lost their lives during the shooting.
“I am deeply concerned about what appears to be excessive use of force by the police where civilians are involved. This is the second incident in recent weeks where police apparently have opened fire on innocent people due to mistaken identity or involvement in separate incidents of crime,” Mr Plato said.
Mr Plato said he had requested a full update from the provincial SAPS management on “what they are doing to avoid the loss of life, suspect or not, when intercepting and investigating criminal activities”.
He said: “The use of excessive force and an attitude of ‘shoot to kill’ is a remnant of former national commissioner Bheki Cele’s reign over the police and contradictory to the institutional reform needed to ensure a professional, demilitarised policing service in South Africa.”
McDonald’s South Africa, in a press release, said support and trauma counselling was being provided to those involved in the incident, including the families of the victims and the staff at the restaurant.
Greg Solomon, chief executive Officer for McDonald’s SA, said the incident had left the business traumatised.
“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of our Kuils River team.”