Pretoria – “You shot him just like that?”
Those were the words of a car guard describing the incident where Tsakani Rikhotso Shimange, 38, was shot and killed, allegedly by a Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officer.
This is according to his uncle Belani Shimange, who said a car guard approached him after he arrived on the scene where his nephew was shot.
Shimange was allegedly shot by an officer a few metres from his place of work at the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services in Hatfield after dropping off his partner, Sibongile Ntlwane, 37, at Sunnypark, Pretoria.
“The car guard told us that he was directing Rikhotso to park when the TMPD officer stopped him, spoke briefly and, when he returned to the car, he shot him.
“He said he was so shocked he asked, ‘You shot him just like that?’ and then ran away when the officer tried to come towards him,” said Shimange.
He said the family was shocked to find out that Tsakani had been shot by a police officer as he was not an aggressive person.
“In our family, he was the one constantly laughing, playing his music and making sure everyone was okay. We were just with him. Now he’s gone, and we can’t understand why they did this to him,” he said.
“It has not sunk in yet for us that we will no longer be able to hear his laughter or stories about all the places he had been to for work.”
Shimange said the one thing that Tsakani prided himself on was the work he did with their children’s computer literacy programmes. Colleague Siya Qoza said Tsakani was always looking to help out and loved his job more than anything.
“We worked together mostly when there were events, and he was always the first person to arrive to help set up, and the last person to leave.
“If you ever needed any help, he was the person to ask as he was always willing to lend a hand to his colleagues,” he said.
Shimange said his nephew was apparently trying to use wires to restart his car as it had been giving him trouble when the officer mistook him to be reaching for a weapon, and shot him in the chest through the windscreen.
An emotional Ntlwane stood helplessly looking at the body of her partner while pathologists collected him from the ground next to his car.
“I don’t understand this. He was with me five minutes before this and I was sure he’d come back. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. He was alive and well, and now I’ve just had to watch him lying there,” she said.
Tshwane Metro spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba confirmed that a 27-year-old TMPD constable was arrested and would be facing a charge of murder.
Mahamba said officials could not disclose the officer’s name until he appeared in the regional magistrate’s court on Monday.
“We will be co-operating with the SAPS and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, but we are going to do an internal investigation.
“It is unclear what happened at this stage, but we would like to give the SAPS space to conduct their investigations without interference, and we will co-operate with them fully,” he said.