Top cop Cele visits family of youngest shoot-to-kill victim

NATIONAL Police Commissioner Bheki Cele yesterday visited the family of the three-year-old boy who was shot and killed by a police officer.

Atlegang Phalane was shot in Klipfontein View, Midrand, two weeks ago.

Cele said his visit was to comfort and mourn with the family of the boy. "I came here to comfort and mourn with the family. It was hard but I feel much better to have come here.

"The family is grieving and rightfully so. There were issues raised and they will be attended to.

The commissioner stressed that he had never told police to shoot at innocent people.

"At no stage have we said the police should shoot to kill but we said they should use deadly force when faced with dangerous criminals," said Cele.

"The police cannot be trigger happy and shoot at school children, let alone a three-year-old," he said.

"Even if the toddler was armed there are other ways of dealing with such incidents."

Cele said Constable SS Malaka - who has admitted to shooting the child, who he thought was armed - was in custody and the law would now take its course.

Atlegang's mother Mapule remains in a distraught state.

"I miss my baby.

"I will never heal because I face one crisis after another, now my 13-year-old daughter is in hospital after she collapsed at school as she is deeply affected by her brother's death."

Mapule's sister, Mantu, said the family was in desperate need of counselling.

"There is a lot of tension in the house. We hardly crack any jokes because everybody is hurting," said Mantu.

"Atlegang was like my own son, full of life. That is why we miss him so much."

Malaka was tracing a murder suspect when he found Atlehang sitting in a car outside his home.

He told police he mistook "a pipe the boy was holding" as a gun and opened fire, killing him instantly.

Malaka is expected to appear in the Thembisa magistrate's court today for bail application.