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Police shot at us - tavern patrons

By Ntwaagae Seleka - | 2012-04-04 07:21:50.0

TWO months after allegedly being assaulted by members of the police Tactical Response Team, victims in Sebokeng in the Vaal are still waiting for justice.

The unit, known as "Amaberete" (men in berets) stormed into a tavern in Sebokeng in February and assaulted patrons, according to the owner, Thabang Makwela.

Makwela said six members of "Amaberete" ordered his patrons to lie on the floor.

"One of them stood on the snooker table. Then they started to assault my patrons. Some members of Amaberete poured liquor over some patrons and this made them angry," said Makwela.

He said things got out of hand when some of the patrons retaliated by throwing objects at the police, who in turn fired at them.

"It was bad. People were angry and police were shooting in their direction," said Makwela.

Makwela's neighbour Lerato Mocholodi claimed he was home watching television when he heard gunshots.

"I switched off the television while the shooting continued. I thought maybe somebody had been killed outside my home and decided to peep through the window. I saw a policeman and he a shot at me. A bullet hit me on my hand," said Mocholodi.

Mocholodi said he was lucky that the bullet only hit his hand. "Imagine if it had struck my head, I would be dead now," said Mocholodi.

Another victim, Johnny Pieterson, said he was walking from another tavern when he was shot in the leg.

"I heard gunshots but did not see where they came from. I saw a group of police officers, some of them wearing berets, and without any provocation they fired shots at me and I was hit in my left ankle.

"Some of them ordered me to lie down. One of them kicked me in the stomach even though I was injured," he said.

Pieterson said the police officers left him lying there.

"Later, police who were probably on patrol stopped a car and assaulted the driver. The driver was forced to crawl while another person was pepper-sprayed and assaulted.

Another policeman accused me of carrying a firearm. They called an ambulance, which took me hospital," he said.

Mocholodi and Pieterson are demanding that their assailants be brought to book.

Gauteng police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale said they were investigating the two cases.

He said the cases were also being investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.