● Family and community blame police ● Ipid says it hasn’t established if the bullet was from cops or the gang they were chasing
Police are accused of having accidentally shot and killed a mother of two, who got married just a month ago, while in pursuit of criminals.
However, police said the woman died in a shootout between the officers and a gang of hijackers, but her family insists that Samantha Mathane, 29, was killed by a police bullet while returning from work.
She was a few metres from her home in Alexandra when she was hit by a bullet. The shooting has enraged the community, who marched to the Alexandra police station yesterday hoisting placards that read “#Justice 4 Samantha”.
Mathane’s aunt Melitha Hlatshwayo said yesterday that they were angered and hurt that “a police officer opened fire in public with disregard for innocent bystanders and children”.
“Samantha was not a gangster, she was not a criminal and she didn’t deserve to die like this,” Hlatshwayo said.
She said Mathane had just alighted a taxi when she was hit by the bullet in her back.
“She was shot on the left side of her back and fell on her face,” Hlatshwayo said.
“It hurts because she just got married on December 15 and this cop shot her exactly a month later.
“She didn’t even enjoy being married.
“They were shooting at people who didn’t have guns. They claimed that there was a shootout but people who saw what happened said the people they were chasing didn’t have guns so it comes as a surprise that they opened fire in a very busy area.”
She said Mathane had two children, a six-year-old and a one year-old, and that they would have to grow up without a mother.
“Her parents died when she was young. She was starting to get her life together and seeing her lifeless body lying in the streets like that tore my heart to pieces,” she said.
Ntokozo Mate, who witnessed the shooting, said they were waiting for the gate to open in a passage that leads to Mathane’s home when they suddenly heard shots being fired.
“While we were standing there, a car came from down the street with a group of guys who had hijacked a car. We didn’t see that cops were running after them.
“They [cops] just opened fire and one of them [bullets] hit her while we were all trying to find cover,” Mate said.
Hlatshwayo described her niece as a peaceful individual who enjoyed dedicating her time to her church.
“She was a family person and loved spending time with her children and husband. She was quiet and wouldn’t hold grudges against anyone,” she said.
Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Sontoga Seisa said police were chasing a suspicious vehicle in the vicinity when a shootout ensued.
“It is alleged that a shootout took place between the police and the suspects.
“In the process the deceased was shot and killed whilst another adult male was also shot and injured and taken to hospital for medical treatment.”
Seisa said Ipid was not certain yet whether Mathane died as a result of a policeman discharging his firearm because both the suspects and the police fired shots at each other.
“No arrests have been made as yet but investigations are ongoing,” he said