Thursday, May 5, 2011

Trigger Happy Cop

Incident-prone sergeant denied bail following woman's fatal shooting

May 4, 2011

The policeman accused of shooting Jeanette Odendaal outside the Kempton Park police station last week showed he "cannot be trusted" with a firearm and "he is at it again". 

These words were used by magistrate Eric Mhlari when he denied bail to Sergeant Manape Kgoale, largely because he was convicted for firing his gun negligently eight years ago. 

Odendaal, who had crashed into a police van, died after being shot, allegedly by Kgoale, outside the Kempton Park police station. 

Mhlari said in his judgment that Kgoale had shown "he is somebody who cannot be trusted with the use of a firearm". 

Earlier, the packed Kempton Park Magistrate's Court heard that Mhlari had been treated for alcohol abuse from March 28 to April 15 and was discharged less than two weeks before he allegedly shot Odendaal. 

Prosecutor Ninette Lambden said Mhlari had been treated in the police employee assistance programme for "emotional stress" after being absent without leave from work for 41 days. 

Reports last week quoted car guard Sipho Baloyi as saying that Kgoale walked up to Odendaal's car and fired at her with no warning. 

Kgoale's lawyer, Riaan Louw, cross-examined Independent Complaints Directorate investigating officer Wiseman Baloyi, who admitted there were problems with contradictory statements from witnesses. 

Kgoale, whom Louw said obtained 90% for a course on legal principles and firearms training in February, claims he saw a vehicle repeatedly reversing and driving into cars parked in front and behind it. 

When he received no response and the car drove towards him, he allegedly fired at Odendaal's left arm, a decision taken in "split seconds". 

Because of bad lighting and the reflection of the windscreen, he believed that an object clenched in the driver's hand was a gun. 

"I thought my life was in danger," said Kgoale. 

In her closing argument, prosecutor Ninette Lambden said Kgoale had "allegedly bent down into the motor vehicle and fired" and that there was an "outcry from the community" over police brutality. 

"The fact of the matter is that two people have passed away in two months' time due to police action," she said. 

Louw denied this . "It cannot be compared to the case in Ficksburg where numerous policemen were beating an unarmed person," he said. 


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