The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has defended the officers of the South African Police Service (Saps) in the Misty Hills Country Hotel shooting.
The incident, which took place at the guest lodge in Muldersdrift on Saturday night, saw a man shot in the head by a police officer following an altercation.
A video of the incident has since widely circulated on social media showing the victim arguing with police.
According to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Grace Langa, the man, who has been identified as Len Cloete, was arguing with staff and management at the lodge and was asked to leave.
Cloete, however, refused to do so.
“The security and manager followed him to his room and requested him to leave, then he became more aggressive. Police officers were called to assist. When the police arrived the guest started fighting with them.
“He took a firearm out of the bed drawer and cocked it. One bullet fell down, and it is alleged the victim disarmed one police officer of his firearm.
“The guest was in possession of two firearms, then one police officer took out his service pistol and shot that guest once in the head,” said Langa.
But Popcru believes the police’s actions were completely justified.
“The officers found their lives were in danger and acted accordingly, which must be deemed as justifiable,” the union said in a statement on Tuesday.
The union said while it is against any form of brutality, be it against civilians or law enforcement agencies, the incident was regrettable, especially when the police are subjected to abusive behaviour.
“They are often subjected to the abusive behaviour such as that portrayed in the clip by the person of interest, demonstrating a high level of disdain for the constitutionally-mandated tasks that these officers carry out with commitment.
“This is but one of the unfortunate incidents which are particularly taking place at a time when our men and women in blue are going through the worst; with many having lost their lives in line of duty, while many others have incurred life-threatening injuries at the hands of criminal elements,” Popcru further said.
It has since been revealed that Cloete is in a coma at a hospital in Krugersdorp under police guard.
According to Rekord Newspaper, police have opened a case of robbery, assault and malicious damage to property against Cloete.
The Ipid is investigating the incident – including whether police acted lawfully when they shot Cloete.