Monday, 2 February 2009

'Oh my God, I'm going to die!'

February 02 2009 at 06:09AM

By Thandi Skade

An off-duty police officer fired 12 bullets into a civilian car - for alleged reckless driving - leaving a passenger with a gunshot wound through the neck and a graze on her head.

The drama unfolded at around 11.30pm on January 23.

A 30-year-old man, who wanted to be identified only as Phillip, and five passengers were travelling in Cedar Road, Fourways, en route to Rosebank when he noticed a car behind him with no number plates. He said he thought he was being followed, so he increased speed.

"The car kept following me until an intersection at William Nicol and Main Road.

"As I looked into my rear-view mirror, I saw an Indian man. The next thing he fired the first shot, which struck the rear-view mirror," Phillip said.

"There were cars in front of me so I drove onto the pavement and into Main Road in a panic, because this man kept firing shots into the car.

"I was thinking 'Oh my God, I'm going to die! I have to get out of here and try to save everyone else from getting shot'," Phillip said.

He managed to drive away from the trigger-happy officer, but not before 22-year-old Lerato*, seated behind Phillip, was struck by a bullet through the neck and another grazed the top of her head.

Lerato said the experience had been so surreal that she did not even realise at the time that she had been shot.

"I didn't actually hear any bullets. Nothing. All I could hear was glass shattering, and then all of a sudden I saw blood everywhere. It didn't hurt at the time, maybe because of the shock."

She was rushed to Fourways Life Hospital, where she underwent an operation to drain blood and to check for internal bleeding. She was discharged on Wednesday.

The young woman said she felt lucky to be alive.

While Lerato was receiving medical treatment, Phillip drove to a police station to report the incident.

He first went to the Douglasdale police, where he was told it was out of their jurisdiction, and was referred to the Randburg police station.

Then, in a bizarre turn of events, Phillip was arrested by the "gunman", who stormed into the station, accusing him of trying to run him over.

"The guy walked into the police station as I was reporting the case. He asked whose Mercedes S600 was parked outside, and I said it was mine. Then he said he was placing me under arrest for trying to run him over," Phillip said.

He was placed in a cell overnight and released at 9.30am on Saturday. It was only then that he was allowed to open a case of attempted murder against the police officer.

Phillip's lawyer said the state had refused to prosecute the case laid against him by the constable as there was "no prospect of a successful prosecution".

Randburg police spokesperson Inspector Hein van Heerden said a case of attempted murder was being investigated against the constable.

Gauteng police spokesperson Superintendent Eugene Opperman noted that an off-duty policeman enjoyed the same authority as when on duty.

*Not her real name

This article was originally published on page 2 of The Star on February 02, 2009


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