Maverick Citizen

POLICE SHOOTING

Gqeberha community calls for justice after cops gun down popular local soccer player

Gqeberha community calls for justice after cops gun down popular local soccer player
Well-known soccer player Vuyolwethu Ndokweni's father Lamleli Ndokweni (left) and his sister Liyabona Ndokweni speak after Vuyolwethu was killed after police in Walmer township, Gqeberha, fired shots at the car he was driving. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Residents of Walmer township are up in arms after police shot and killed a well-known soccer player from the area. Vuyolwethu Ndokweni was hit three times when bullets were fired through the back window of his vehicle after he allegedly failed to stop.

‘We were always happy to see the police… but now I don’t know. Now they won’t be welcome here any more,” said the father of 26-year-old Vuyolwethu Ndokweni.

Ndokweni was killed on 29 April when a police officer opened fire on his car. He was shot through the back window while giving a family member a lift to a petrol station.

Fighting back tears, his father, Lamleli Ndokweni, said the only thing they can think of that he did wrong was to speed up after the police activated their flashing lights and siren.

cops soccer player

Vuyolwethu Ndokweni on the soccer field. (Photo: Supplied)

“But his cousin who was with him said that by the time they shot him through the back windscreen, he was already slowing down.”

It is understood that police had called for backup and a local security company had also joined the chase.

Lamleli said his son, who was a driver at a courier company, had had a drink before getting into the car and might have been afraid of losing his job.

Ndokweni was a popular local soccer player who dreamed of becoming a coach. He was a brother, son and father of a six-year-old, with another baby on the way. He was buried on 6 May.

“He was so young,”  his father said. “Everyone was so shocked.”

The police officers have been booked off on stress leave.

Ndokweni’s sister, Liyabona, said her brother was giving his cousin a lift to the petrol station near the airport when he was shot.

“They only had an empty can with them. Neither of them had firearms.”

The victim’s father said a neighbour told them that night that something had happened to Vuyolwethu. He went to the police station and waited for hours, but no one gave him any information. They went back to the police station at 7pm the next day and only then were they told that their son had died.

“I lost my job in 2019,” Lamleli said, “Vuyolwethu has been looking after things at the house… he loved his sisters and they adored him.”

cops soccer player

The street in Walmer township where Vuyolwethu Ndokweni was killed in a police shooting. (Photo: Deon Ferreira)

Angry community members staged a protest a week ago and met the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) on Thursday. 

However, Lamleli said they did not go to the meeting. “If they want to talk to us, they can come here to the house.”

Ipid spokesperson Robbie Raburabu said they met the community to explain that they were investigating the incident.

“The community demanded that we arrest the [police] suspect and that he must be immediately placed on unpaid suspension. They also demanded that we investigate and conclude the investigation within seven days. We explained we could not do this as we have to go through the investigation process and submit the outcome to the director of public prosecutions and the police.”

Walmer Township in Gqeberha has for the past two years seen a series of murders, some of which were linked to a gang selling illegal firearms. Members of this gang were arrested last year after a shootout with the police.

The community’s only police station, the Fountains satellite police station, was closed in 2017 due to the state of the building. Despite community protests, petitions and calls from political parties, it has never reopened. DM/MC

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