Frank Maponya

Frank Maponya

Heads are expected to roll following the death of a man allegedly shot dead by Limpopo police officers while he was being "dragged along" by their vehicle.

The incident allegedly took place at Maphakathi village, near Bolobedu, on Saturday night.

The officers allegedly fired their weapons when they were stoned by a group of youths, with the clash ending in the death of a 25-year-old villager, Matome Ramalatswa.

According to provincial police spokesman Superintendent Ronel Otto, preliminary investigations indicated that police officers were patrolling the area in a minibus when they came across youths playing a game of dice.

It was at around 11:10pm and the area was known as a flashpoint for crime.

When the police officers came across the group, they reportedly threatened to arrest the youths but they ran away.

The officers, whose ranks range from constable to inspector, then returned to their vehicle to leave the area.

But Ramalatswa, apparently not involved in the dice game, then walked past the police vehicle and was grabbed by his shirt by an officer, who held on to him - despite the vehicle being in motion.

While he was screaming to be released, youths then threw stones at the police officers, smashing the vehicle's rear window.

Police then allegedly opened fire on the youths and a bullet is said to have hit Ramalatswa, who was still being dragged along by the vehicle, killing him instantly.

"This is really disturbing. Police are supposed to adhere to a code of conduct and not do anything to sour relations with communities," Otto said yesterday.

She said an internal investigation was being conducted and that "tough action" would be taken against anyone found responsible for the killing.

The matter is also being investigated by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).

ICD spokesman Dikeledi Phiri has confirmed they were investigating the death of Ramalatswa.

"We managed to interview some of the officers on duty and also confiscate their firearms for ballistic tests. But one of them refused to hand over his firearm, saying he wanted to first consult his lawyers.

"We are not insinuating that he was responsible for the shooting, but the truth must be told," Phiri said.