A few weeks ago Susan Shabangu, deputy safety and security minister, came under fire for her comment at a police imbizo when she encouraged police officers to shoot to kill criminals, or more directly – “kill the bastards”.

Family friends of ours are currently spending their days and nights in ICU at the Glynnwood hospital next to the bed of their 20-year old son who is in a critical condition after being shot by Metro Police, for what seems like no reason whatsoever:

Man serious after being shot by Metro cops

18th April – Gloria Edwards

A top Badminton player from Benoni is in serious condition in a hospital after allegedly being shot in his genitals and shoulder by Ekurhuleni Metro Police.

Mr. James-Thomas Geldart (20), a badminton coach who also plays for Benoni Country Club’s first team, is in serious condition in the Glynnwood Hospital ICU after having been shot close to his parents’ home in Rynfield around 12:30.

According to his father, James, Geldart Jnr. was on his way home from Springs where he had played in a badminton league match when metro police members, apparently in two unmarked cars, began following him on the N12 freeway “and began shooting at him.”

Geldart Jnr. sped to his parents’ home and phoned a security company which – according to Geldart snr – “Could hear his son being shot at.”
Scarcely a block away from home Geldart jnr., apparently already wounded, lost control over his Golf car after which it ran into a wall. His mother, Amanda, woke up when she heard the shooting and activated the house alarm. “I had scarcely pressed the panic button when CMS (security) stopped at the house and asked where the hijacking was,” she said. Geldart snr. accompanied security personnel to the scene where paramedics were treating their son.

“He was covered in blood. He said: “Dad, I thought I was being hijacked because they were shooting at me.” The family was recently held up by armed robbers in their home, and Geldart. Jnr. was hijacked about a year ago.

Geldart jnr. also sustained an injury to his face. “The doctors aren’t sure whether it’s a gunshot wound or whether it’s as a result of the accident,” Mrs. Geldart said.

Geldart snr. said they were trying to make sense of the incident. “He’s only a child. He’s got a bright future ahead of him. He was head boy of Brandwag High School, as well as being among the top ten badminton players in the country. He is also in his third year at Unisa, studying for his B. Com financial management.

We don’t know why they were shooting at him, but we had heard that the metro police were conducting an ATM crime prevention project in Springs, so they may have mistaken him for a suspect. We don’t know,” he said.

According to Capt. Julia Claasen, police spokesperson, the metro police followed Geldart jnr. as he had allegedly skipped a red traffic light. “A case of attempted murder is being investigated,” she said.

Chief Superintendent Wilfred Kgasago, metro police spokesperson, confirmed that “there was a shooting incident in which metro police members were involved.”

As I’ve said before on this blog, I haven’t been the victim of violent crime. Nor have any of the members of my immediate family. So it’s conceivable, and justifiable, that you could regard my normally optimistic view of our country as delusional. I know I’d feel differently if something like this happened – completely different.

Do me a favour – if you pray, pray for these people. If you don’t pray, do whatever you do when you feel helpless. It hit home really hard this morning when I was invited to the Facebook group in support of James Jnr. – I still have some hope, but it’s waning fast.