Church members rally around priest shot by cops hunting jail escapee

McKeed Kotlolo

A team of African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church leaders, including health professionals, yesterday counselled a 40-year-old priest shot by North West police after they mistook him for fugitive C-Max escapee Ananias Mathe.

Motlotlo Ezekiel Rabotapi of AME's GaRankuwa area was shot in the left leg by plainclothes policemen travelling in an unmarked car near the Mpyatilo Primary School on Monday afternoon.

Mathe escaped from what is supposed to be South Africa's most secure jail, C-Max Prison in Pretoria, on Saturday night.

Marico area police in Rustenburg said members of the Eastern Task Team had received an alert about a man fitting Mathe's description in the area.

Captain Elsabe Augoustides of the Marico area police said that when the policemen tried to apprehend him the suspect ran away.

"The task team followed the 'escapee' and fired a warning shot. He was arrested and it was discovered that 'the suspect' had sustained a bullet wound to the left leg."

She said the officer who allegedly wounded Rabotapi had his firearm taken for ballistic tests.

He had not been suspended, but an attempted murder docket had been opened.

Augoustides said the Independent Complaints Directorate had been informed about the incident.

She said the priest later said he had panicked and fled because the men who approached him were wearing plain clothes and he didn't know they were police officers.