[imagesource: Facebook / Len Cloete]
Len Cloete was shot in the head by a police officer at Misty Hills Country Hotel, in Muldersdrift, Gauteng, on Saturday night.
Cloete was a guest at the hotel and had been in some kind of argument with staff members and security personnel, who had asked him to leave.
Police spokesperson Colonel Dimakatso Sello said that police were responding to a complaint that Cloete was causing chaos and had already assaulted two officers prior to the video being filmed.
Police have opened a case of robbery, assault, and malicious damage to property against Cloete.
The showdown ultimately resulted in a near-fatal moment.
Cloete, a bodybuilder and owner of Vo2 Max Fitness Centre in Rietvleirand, east of Pretoria, is said to be in a coma, but in a stable condition in hospital.
Reaction to the footage of the shooting has been divided. There are those who argue that Cloete left the officer no other option, while others say there were other steps the officer could have taken before pulling the trigger.
If you haven’t seen the footage, a reminder that what you’re about to see shows graphic scenes of violence:
Shooting at a lodge in Muldersdrift. The guest was apparently involved in an argument with staff & police were alerted. On arrival, there was an argument & he pulled a firearm. Police fired a shot. The man is in hospital under guard. IPID is probing the case. ***⚠️ Graphic video pic.twitter.com/cmDSLe0W0B
— Yusuf Abramjee (@Abramjee) November 15, 2021
Criminal expert attorney Jacques Botha, speaking with IOL, said police on the scene handled the situation very poorly.
Their passive reaction “let the situation spiral out of control”:
“The two police officers outside were not present to assist and deal with the situation. When you have a person who behaves like this, police are trained to progressively dominate it so it does not escalate.
“Their lack of assistance allowed the perpetrator to gain control and they were not present to immediately react, which is what happened.
“This left a small, timid police officer standing there who the perpetrator took advantage of, and then an inept police officer who then shot the man,” he said.
Botha says police could have used pepper spray earlier to subdue Cloete, as well as enlisting the help of security personnel who watched on and did nothing.
“Quite frankly, it is a serious indictment of a lack of training, a lack of ability, a lack of control to step in and get involved on the part of police; everything went wrong from their side.
“But, ultimately, Cloete has himself to blame for most of what had gone on but I believe the shooting at the exact moment when the shot was fired, was simply not justified. So that officer is going to face legal consequences for that.”
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has opened an investigation into the incident.
Former police officer-turned-private-investigator Brad Nathanson also spoke with IOL. He agreed that pepper spray could have been used but said he also would have pulled the trigger after Cloete disarmed the female officer:
“The moment I saw a gun in his hand I would have warned him verbally and if he raised that firearm, I would have shot him, likely in the head, so as to immobilise him and so as to protect myself from being shot along with my colleagues,” said Nathanson…
“The police and suspect were in one room of the guest house. The ricochet from a warning shot may have been fatal to one of the SAPS members whether fired into the floor or into the ceiling. It has also been suggested that police should have shot the suspect in the foot. How was this then going to stop him from pulling the trigger of the pistol that he had forcibly and unlawfully removed from a SAPS member?” he said.
Private investigator Mike Bolhuis is on the case, with his team looking into whether the officers followed protocol prior to the shooting.
Police union Popcru (Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union) has defended the officers’ conduct, with spokesperson Richard Mamabolo talking to Radio 702’s Mandy Wiener:
“The fact of the matter is that their lives were under threat. Immediately when the guy pulled out a gun and disarmed an officer that immediately put a risk on the lives of the officers. Whatever reaction that followed after that was in response to what the perpetrator’s actions had been.”
“In this instance, the female officer was overpowered and of course, it was clearly targeted because there were other male officers who were around there and he simply targeted the female officer. I don’t think it would have been on the basis that the female officer is inadequately trained.”
Mamabolo said the incident could have been avoided had Cloete “acted in a manner that suggests he’s a law-abiding citizen”.
You can listen to that full interview below:
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