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Tue Sep 27 02:11:17 SAST 2016

Police use of live ammo comes under fire after McDonald’s shooting

Aron Hyman | 14 March, 2016 15:15
Dan Plato
Image by: Shelley Christians / Sowetan

The use of excessive force and an attitude of “shoot to kill” was a remnant of former national commissioner Bheki Cele’s reign over the police‚ Western Cape Safety and Security MEC Dan Plato said on Monday.

Plato was responding to reports that two McDonald’s employees were killed and five injured early on Monday after a vehicle taking employees home was fired on – allegedly by police who were pursuing suspects involved in a petrol station robbery nearby.

Two other people believed to be involved in the robbery were also shot dead.

The incident in Kuils River‚ Cape Town‚ comes three weeks after a similar incident in the city’s Table View area in which one woman died when a vehicle transporting Nando’s employees home was fired on by police. In this case the vehicle was also allegedly mistaken for a vehicle that had been involved in an earlier robbery in the area.

Plato said in a statement the shooting was “contradictory to the institutional reform needed to ensure a professional‚ demilitarised policing service in South Africa”.

"I am deeply concerned about what appears to be excessive use of force by the police where civilians are involved. This is the second incident in recent weeks where police apparently have opened fire on innocent people due to mistaken identity or involvement in separate incidents of crime,” Plato said.

“There are too many questions arising from these incidents which cannot be left unanswered. As part of my oversight mandate over policing in the province I am requesting a full update by the provincial South African Police Service (SAPS) management on what they are doing to avoid the loss of life‚ suspect or not‚ when intercepting and investigating criminal activities."

A statement released by McDonald’s chief executive officer Greg Solomon on Monday said: “McDonald’s SA can confirm that in the early hours of Monday morning‚ the transport vehicle in which some of our McDonald’s Kuilsriver crew were travelling in‚ was shot at."

“Tragically two of our crew were fatally injured and five others sustained serious injuries.”

Solomon said support was being provided to those involved in the incident‚ the families of the victims and the staff in the restaurant‚ and that trauma counselling would take place.

“The safety and security of our staff is of the utmost importance to us. We are working closely with the relevant authorities in their investigation.

“We are shocked‚ horrified and deeply saddened at the death of two of our valued employees and the injuries sustained by five others. Our thoughts and condolences go out to the family and friends of our Kuilsriver team.”

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) spokesman Robbie Raburabu said the police officers thought the taxi carrying McDonald’s employees was connected to the robbers after it allegedly “obstructed” police from getting to the robbers’ getaway vehicle.

“They obstructed the police's way in trying to get to the vehicle‚ which gave police the idea that they were together.

“The (getaway) taxi had five robbers inside‚ and the police allege they were shooting at them.

“The initial info is that the police did not have their blue lights on‚ so even if there were warnings they were not sufficient‚” said Raburabu.

On February 24‚ Nando's employee Phumeza Fudumele was shot dead after police opened fire on a taxi taking Nando’s employees home after their shift had ended. Fellow employee Zanele Dineka was shot in the leg.

The shooting happened while seven employees were being transported in a Toyota Avanza from the Sandown outlet in Cape Town’s Blouberg area‚ to nearby Dunoon.

Police claim officers opened fire on the taxi because it matched the description of a vehicle used in ATM bombings earlier that day. They claim they opened fire after the driver failed to stop.

The fast food outlet has hired forensic investigator David Klatzow to help “try to understand how this could have happened”.

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