Police shoot dead 3-year-old in South Africa
10 November 2009
Police in South Africa have allegedly shot dead a three-year-old boy because they mistook a metal pipe he was holding for a gun.
Atlegang Aphane’s family, who claimed the officer responsible showed no remorse, questioned whether their son had been the victim of a “shoot to kill” policy encouraged by the government.
The incident comes after a string of deaths of innocent people at the hands of police, raising fears of the reckless use of lethal force reminiscent of the apartheid era. Politicians warned that the fatal blunders would make foreign visitors fear for their safety during next years football World Cup in South Africa.
The spate of killings has been linked to zero tolerance rhetoric from Jacob Zuma, the South African president, and Bheki Cele, the national police commissioner, instructing the police to open fire on armed criminals without hesitation.
Atlegang, three, was sitting in the back seat of a car parked outside a family home near Midrand, Johannesburg, with his uncle on Saturday. A police constable allegedly drove up and fired through the window, killing the boy instantly. The officer apparently mistook a pipe for a gun being pointed at him, but no pipe or weapon was found at the scene.
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