Cops mow down brothers

THE situation remains tense in Mt Moria, north of Durban, after the killing of three Memela brothers by the police.

Twins Xolisani and Mzothiswa Memela, 25, and their younger brother Zi-khaliphele, 22, died when police opened fire while they were sleeping.

The trigger-happy police accused them of being criminals.

Mthetho'awukho Memela, 27, said police vehicles had been patrolling the area at midnight on Tuesday when he was walking home from work.

The distraught man said the police officers asked him why he was out so late.

"I was forced into the back of the van and driven home. When we arrived there they forced me to knock at the door and one of my brothers opened," he said, sobbing.

He was allegedly forced back into the police van. Moments later he heard shots.

Two of the brothers were allegedly shot while they were sleeping.

The police claimed they had been attacked by the deceased and had retaliated in self-defence.

The father, Silawuli Memela, said his family was struggling to come to terms with what had happened.

"I never thought I'd lose my boys like this," he said.

"The police's claim that there were guns in the house is not true."

Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the case was being investigated by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).

"The information we have is that the police retaliated when they were shot at by occupants of the house.

"Two pistols were found. But if it is found that the police acted wrongly they will have to account fo it," Mdunge said.

ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini said: "We are investigating. Police weapons and those found on the scene will be taken for ballistic testing."

Angry residents have called on National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele to intervene by putting the officers involved behind bars.

On Tuesday they blocked the highway leading to the city.

Resident Jomba Mtshali said community members had been victims of police brutality for far too long in the area.

"We have lost innocent souls. These boys were very disciplined and we used to refer to them as good examples for other children because of their behaviour.

"Even a blind person could bear testimony that these boys were killed in their sleep. Their bed is full of blood," Mtshali said.