A family has accused Eastern Cape police officers of killing their 19-year-old family member in his bed during a raid for a firearm in Tsomo in the early hours of Friday.
Police, however, said they acted in self-defence, according to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
The deadly attack on Tsomo High School Grade 10 pupil Nathi Sotushe was allegedly carried out by 15 police officers at his Mdletyeni home.
IPID is investigating the circumstances of the killing but the family has described the incident as an act of police brutality.
IPID spokesperson Ndileka Cola said the police claimed they shot Sotushe in self-defence after he used a spear to attack them.
She confirmed IPID was investigating a death as a result of police action.
“It is alleged that the police visited the homestead in Mdletyeni location Tsomo. When they entered the house, the deceased attacked the police officer with a spear and the police officer fired a shot that fatally wounded [him]. The investigation continues and upon completion, the matter will be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a final decision.”
Speaking from the mortuary on Tuesday, Sotushe’s uncle, Mninawa Gwadela, 42, said his nephew was tortured for hours before he was shot.
Gwadela said he was interrupted in his sleep by a loud bang at 01:45 on Friday.
“I thought it was a boulder landing on my roof and went outside to investigate. I found more than 15 police officers standing above my nephew who was lying in a pool of blood.”
Gwadela said the teenager was struggling to speak and blood was spewing from his swollen mouth.
“What became clear is that he was beaten with fists for a long time in the face and body before he was shot. That loud bang I heard was a gunshot,” he claimed.
Gwadela said when he asked the police officers what the raid was about, they replied that they wanted him to tell them about a gun.
“I asked them how he was going to be able to talk when he was viciously attacked like that.”
Gwadela claimed: “No gun was found in the house and he had told them who had the gun.”
His nephew would be laid to rest on Saturday.
He told News24: “I am here at the mortuary finalising the burial preparations so unfortunately, I won’t be able to talk for a long time.
Eastern cape police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said: “Police can confirm that a case of murder was opened on 31 July 2020 at 01:40 for investigation. No suspects were arrested and the docket was handed over to IPID today, 03 July for further handling.”