No justice for Patrick Sobutyu two years after he was shot by police

Neither IPID nor SAPS has finished investigation

Photo of a man in hospital

Patrick Sobutyu in Delft day hospital trauma unit in August 2014. Photo by Daneel Knoetze.

By Ashleigh Furlong

1 July 2016

Patrick Sobutyu says that the bullet fired by a police officer ripped through both his thighs, then smashed the cell phone in his trouser pocket.

This happened in 2014 during evictions in Marikana, Philippi East.

Sobutyu says he has not been contacted by either the police or the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), which is meant to investigate such shootings.

When GroundUp initially followed up on Sobutyu a month after he was shot, he was going back to his job as a taxi driver. But last year, he had to stop driving a taxi, because of his leg injury.

“I don’t know what is happening there,” says Sobutyu, pointing to his right leg. While he does not feel pain in his leg, Sobutyu says that it can shake when he walks and believes that the bullet could have hit a nerve.

He is now a marshal at the Nyanga taxi rank and owns a taxi which is driven by someone else. He is making less money than he previously did as a driver.

“I am staying in that place where I was shot,” says Sobutyu, referring to the shack in Marikana he was shot during last year’s protest. He lives there with his two young children and his wife.

As GroundUp previously reported on the use of force in protests, according to a SAPS national instruction: ‘Force must be avoided “at all cost”, and the police must display the “highest degree of tolerance”. When force is unavoidable, it must be “minimal”, “reasonable in the circumstances”, geared towards “de-escalating” the conflict and applied only upon instruction from the commanding officer.’

In August 2014, GroundUp contacted both the police and IPID regarding the police’s use of live ammunition during the evictions, which was confirmed by video footage, and the shooting of Sobutyu.

At the time, the police said there was an “investigation” into the allegations of the use of live ammunition; IPID never referred to any live ammunition being used.

Now, 22 months later, in response to GroundUp’s queries, acting national spokesperson for IPID, Robbie Raburabu, confirmed by phone that an investigation was in progress. He said all that was outstanding was a medical report, which “shouldn’t take long”.

The police, however, asked if Sobtyu had opened a criminal case. Captain FC Van Wyk of SAPS Western Cape Media Centre, responded: ‘Kindly establish from your source whether criminal case have been registered (where, when, which station), and if so, kindly provide this office with the case number so that the validity thereof can be confirmed.”