CAPE TOWN – The killing of a homeless man – allegedly by a 22-year-old law enforcement officer – has once again raised serious questions about the effectiveness of the City’s firearm training, as well as the vetting process of officers suitable to carry firearms.
Officer Luvolwethu Kati appeared in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday charged with the murder of 48-year Dumisani Joxo, who was shot in the mouth while trying to intervene in a scuffle between his friend and Kati in Rondebosch on Sunday, according to a witness.
His killing has sent shock waves among experts and human rights activists and once again underscores the City’s treatment of the homeless.
Recently appointed National Planning Commission member and criminologist at Stellenbosch University’s Department of Political Science, Dr Guy Lamb, said the City and province owed residents an explanation.
“Police within South Africa are often confronted by prerogative people, meaning training is paramount. We have seen cases where officers are provoked and they become frustrated and respond violently by injuring a person or even worse a person dies.
“This incident raises a series of questions about the effectiveness of firearm training within law enforcement and the vetting process.
“When it comes to selecting individuals to perform policing functions a careful selection needs to be done.
Shooting someone in the face with live ammunition is completely unacceptable, so it must be checked if proper vetting and firearms training was done with this officer and for how long. Both the city and province need to answer questions and there must be some form of accountability,” Lamb said.
The City has said all officers underwent the required training, including Peace Officer Training, by-law training and also obtained a Traffic Warden Certificate.
Detailing the incident, witnesses at the scene, in Chester Street, said Joxo, originally from Site B in Khayelitsha, was shot while trying to intervene in a scuffle between his friend and Kati.
Joxo’s friend allegedly refused to extinguish a small cooking fire, when ordered to do so by the law enforcement officials.
His friend Christopher Caesar said four days prior to the incident, Joxo was allegedly brutally assaulted by officers, for no apparent reason.
“He was never a violent man, all of us here and even those who have left the place know that he was a man of peace who was always willing to assist where he could, all the time. I have lost respect for law enforcement after what they did to our friend.
“Now, every time I see a person in a law enforcement uniform I get angry and this is something I will never heal from no matter how hard I try to make peace with them.”
In a video distributed by human rights lobby group Ndifuna Ukwazi on Tuesday, Joxo’s partner Christin Coleridge claimed that the officer didn’t seem to mean to shoot Joxo.
“The law enforcement guy just shot, it’s like he didn’t mean (it), he didn’t even look where he was shooting. He just shot, and he shot Dumza (Joxo) in the mouth,” Coleridge said.
Homeless activist Carlos Mesquita said: “Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown, serious questions and allegations were raised concerning City of Cape Town law enforcement officers’ training, conduct, mandate, policies and practices, use of excessive force and weapons, and chain of command.”
In a statement supported by several organisations , Ndifuna Ukwazi said that Joxo’s killing brought into question whether Kati had been trained to deploy alternative means instead of using his firearm and opening fire.
“The City’s unchecked and escalating levels of violence towards street-based people came to a head on Sunday, January 9, when a member of the City’s Law Enforcement unit shot and killed Joxo in Rondebosch.
“Kati, who was part of the law enforcement team doing their regular morning check-up on the community, saw an open fire made by one of the community members and requested the fire to be extinguished.
“At this stage the officer had already armed his firearm,” they said. The City said training was done in terms of the national standard and the competency certificates for law enforcement are issued by the National Police Commissioner of SAPS.
Officers also undergo refresher training, the City said.
“In terms of firearm training, all City enforcement staff undergo accredited firearm training.
“We are fully compliant with the National Firearm training standard as endorsed by the PFTC (Professional Firearm Trainers Council).
“We have eight fully qualified firearm instructors as well as an NRCS and SAPS approved shooting range facility.
“There is no difference between the firearm training that a traffic officer , Metro police officer or a law enforcement officer undergoes,” the City said.
Kati was still employed, as the matter was still under investigation, the City said. He was released on R1 000 bail and his postponed to April 12.