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Qacha’s Nek woman demands justice

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…28 years after being caught by stray bullets from the police

Moorosi Tsiane

A WOMAN is seeking justice from the police, 28 years after being caught by stray bullets in a shooting incident in Qacha’s Nek.

The bullets were presumably meant for taxi operators who were on strike on that fateful day in 1994.

In her High Court papers filed this week, Mamathe Binyane, begs the court’s indulgence to sue Police Commissioner, Holomo Molibeli, for damages for injuries she allegedly sustained in the shooting incident. She cites the lack of money to pay her legal fees as the reason for the lengthy delay in suing the police for compensation.

Ms Binyane says she still has four bullets lodged in her body as a result of the 1994 shooting. Commissioner Molibeli and Attorney General Rapelang Motsieloa are the first and second respondents respectively in her application.

“On or about the 15th of December 1994, I went to Qacha’s Nek Township to buy groceries at Lucky 7 Shop at or near the Qacha’s Nek taxi rank,” Ms Binyane states in her founding affidavit.

“I must mention at the outset that there was a lot of confusion between the Qacha’s Nek Police and the taxi owners in the district to the extent that the latter had embarked on a strike because they wanted the taxi fares to be increased.

“Whilst I was on my way out of the Lucky 7 Shop I was hit by several stray bullets that had been fired by the Qacha’s Nek Police. I immediately fell down and lost consciousness as a result of the injuries that I had sustained on my right thigh. I was immediately taken to Machabeng Hospital for medical treatment. I was hospitalised for a considerable period of time. During my hospitalisation the medical team discovered that there were three bullets stuck in my body.

“The medical team at Machabeng Hospital was not able to extract the three bullets out of my body on the basis that they were stuck in some sensitive places. Thus, I was referred to the Motebang Hospital in Leribe for a further medical treatment. I must again mention that the Motebang Hospital team was also not able to take those bullets out.

“I verily aver that besides Machabeng and Motebang, I also approached the medical team at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital in 2017 for medical treatment in respect of my injuries aforesaid. It was only then that I learned that the bullets stuck in my body were four and not three as I was initially told by the teams of Machabeng and Motebang hospitals. I must again mention that even the medical team at Queen Mamohato were also not able to take these four bullets out of my body. The bullets aforesaid are to date still stuck in my body,” Ms Binyane states.

She says she also approached some unnamed hospitals in South Africa but they too failed to remove the four bullets lodged in her body

“I aver that I had always been paying all the medical expenses from my pocket until I became indigent as I had not been gainfully employed. When I was shot by the police, I was a domestic worker and lived from hand to mouth. I lost employment as a result of my poor health after being shot as aforesaid. I’m now working as a cleaner at the district office in Qacha’s Nek.

“I wish to inform this court that there was absolutely no willful default on my part to sue the respondents herein but for the reasons herein above traversed.

“…I had not been able to engage a private legal practitioner who would help me sue the respondents for the damages I had suffered. I had been to the offices of the Chief Legal Aid Counsel to assist me with the institution of these proceedings but all in vain. The Counsel assigned to my case just declined to draw papers and lodge case in court for the reasons best known to him. I wish to inform this court that my present Counsel of record represents me in this case on a pro bono basis. I am thus soliciting the indulgence of this court to allow me to sue the respondents herein out of time,” Ms Binyane states.