Cape Town – Mother of three Phumza Pita was pepper sprayed, slapped in the face and allegedly shot dead by a police officer after she had questioned their conduct when shutting down a shebeen in New Crossroads, according to her family.
The killing of the 31-year-old has sparked anger in the community as some residents took to the streets, barricading the roads with burning tyres, rubble and large rocks.
They were protesting against police
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) says a case of murder and attempted murder has been opened, but no arrest has been made.
The 31-year-old Pita was shot dead at Koornhof Street on Saturday night. Her uncle, Masixole Pita, was wounded and suffered a broken arm.
Speaking to the Cape Times following his release from hospital, the visibly shaken Masixole said he only remembered hearing gunshots and later running to the family’s home to report the incident.
“Phumza was right next to me. I am not sure at what stage I was hit because I ran back here to report what had happened to her.”
“I was shot once in the arm and my bone cracked. I am still unstable. I’m still very shocked. The whole thing happened fast.”
Phumza’s older uncle, Elliot Pita, who was at the gathering, said four police vans arrived with police, who allegedly shut down the music, taking the sound system and kicking the braai stands.
“They first used a pepper-spray gun and she walked away, but returned to ask why was she being pepper-sprayed. A female police officer slapped her in the face.”
‘‘She then went to another police officer. The next thing we heard were four gunshots. While I was lying on the floor, I saw Phumza was down. She was bleeding from the back of the head.” He said there was no refusal from anyone to what the police were demanding.
“There was no fight or anything. They just beat up anyone in front of them, telling us that we should go sleep. It was not late. This happened at about 10pm,” he said.
The single mother, who is described as a breadwinner by her family, would have walked her three-year-old child to pre-school on Monday morning, according to her aunt Nomalizo Nontshane.
“Her 11-year-old daughter was so angry that she says she hates the police. She was crying the whole day. These are the people to whom we entrust our safety. How do we trust them when something like this happens?”
She said police from Gugulethu station had visited the family to offer their condolences.
“They told us that the docket has been referred to the Ipid. We just want the law to take its course and those involved to be held accountable. Three children are without a mother.”
Police have remained mum about the incident, but Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said police were shutting down an illegal shebeen when patrons allegedly became riotous and the police called for back-up.
“The people in the shebeen allegedly became riotous and the police called for back-up. More police members arrived on the scene and more community members got involved in the matter.”
“Community members allegedly attacked the police by throwing stones and damaged police vehicles. It is further alleged that one of the police officers was surrounded by about 10 people who tried to rob him of his firearm. The police officer fired three warning shots. It was later reported to the police that the deceased was taken by a private vehicle to KTC Day Hospital where she died. The uncle of the deceased was also shot in the right arm.”
Dlamini said they had taken over the investigation and statements of witnesses were still outstanding.
Cape Times / Iol News