Ulundi - The father of a schoolboy who was shot dead by a policeman during a school riot four years ago is heartbroken at the five-year sentence meted out to his son’s killer.
Celimpilo Mkhize, 18, was shot at Machitshana High School, in Babanango, on September 17, 2008. He was a grade 11 pupil at the school.
A second victim, Siyabonga Mthabela, 19, who was in Grade 9, was shot in the hand. He survived the incident.
Sergeant Andries Bheki-nkosi Dlamini, of the Ulundi Dog Unit, who had fired live rounds of ammunition to disperse the rioting pupils, was convicted of murder and attempted murder.
He was sentenced to five years imprisonment on each charge. As both sentences will run concurrently, he will serve five years in prison.
However, Celimpilo’s father, Mqhamukeni Mkhize, said he was heartbroken by the lenient sentence.
“I was in court when sentence was passed. It was not fair. My son was not a criminal,” he said. “His death was not justified.”
He said he had had high hopes for his son, who was the eldest of three children.
“If he was alive, he could have been working and helping us at home. I see his friends who are working and it makes me sad,” he said. “He would have been the breadwinner.”
Mkhize said he had been advised by the court to lodge a civil claim against the police.
“I do not have the money for this. I cannot get a lawyer. It is too expensive,” he said. “The State should think of compensating me. It will not bring my son back, but it will help my family.”
Attempts to get in contact with Mthabela’s family were unsuccessful.
Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini welcomed the sentencing. “We are pleased with the outcome.”
Dlamini said that, on the day of the shooting, police had responded to a call of pupils rioting. He said the station commissioner at Babanango sent three members – Constables Sibusiso Khumalo and Zanele Zondi, and Dlamini – to monitor the situation.
“Once at the school, the policemen were told to stand outside the gate. They were told they would be called if the need arose.”
The school’s teachers and the principal were in a meeting at the time. “When the meeting was over, the principal asked the police to escort the teachers out of the school yard,” Dlamini said. But as the teachers’ vehicles approached the gate, pupils started throwing stones.
“Sergeant Andries Dlamini fired live rounds in the direction of the pupils. One was shot in the buttocks and the other on his hand.”
Both pupils were rushed to hospital. Mkhize died the next day.
Dlamini was charged with Mkhize’s murder and the attempted murder of Mthabela.
However, no departmental action was taken against the policeman, who was only reprimanded by his station commissioner, Moses Dlamini said.
The policeman was found guilty on both counts on June 14 and was sentenced last week. - Daily News