Operation Kgomo Khumo ends tragically for Shashe-Mooke cattle rustler #Cops accused of cover-up
The death of a well-known cattle rustler from Shashe-Mooke has set his family and the police on a cat and mouse pursuit.
35-year-old Onalenna Mahamba was shot from behind on Friday night as he ran away from police officers, who had allegedly been on his trail for a while.
The father-of-three, or Nale as he was affectionately called, was gunned down at Mphane Lands and was certified dead at Nyangagbwe Referral Hospital on Saturday early morning.
The police claim he was armed, eyewitnesses insist he was not. Meanwhile, Mahamba’s devastated family have labeled their son’s death ‘cold-blooded murder’.
Speaking to The Voice on Wednesday morning, Assistant Commissioner and Public Relations Officer, Dipheko Motube said the deceased person was resisting arrest and was armed.
“The police acted in self-defence, the matter is however still investigated,” said Motube, adding that Mahamba’s weapons are in the possession of the police.
Despite this assurance by the police, Voice investigations have unearthed what appears to be a cover-up by the police to protect their own.
Eyewitnesses in the quiet and sparsely populated Mphane painted a picture of a botched covert operation by the police (Kgomo Khumo operation).
In an interview with the dead man’s live-in girlfriend Dimakatso Daniel, she revealed police came to her workplace on Friday afternoon and demanded to know Mahamba’s whereabouts and how many cattle posts he owned.
“They told me that they were looking for him and that should they not find him, they’d hold me responsible,” she said.
Cradling her nine-month-old daughter who moaned restlessly, oblivious to her father’s fate, Daniel said she arrived home in the evening to find Mahamba mending the perimeter fence.
“I was shocked because I rarely find him home when I knock off, he always arrives late. I however didn’t say anything about my encounter with the police because I was scared,” she explained.
Daniel said the fit-as-a-fiddle Mahamba was unusually quiet.
“We took a bath and retired to bed, only to be awakened at midnight by the ding dong of cowbells in the farm. After chasing the cows away, Nale, who was only wearing his boxer shots, made a fire and sat outside. A few moments later I heard two men introduce themselves as police officers and told him that they had been looking for him,” narrated Daniel.
She said Mahamba then bolted, with the officers giving chase in the moonlight.
“I heard a gun shot and another one followed immediately, and then silence,” she said, piercing her narrative with a silence of her own.
“I never left the house. I didn’t even close the door!” added Daniel, absent-mindedly rocking her agitated young child on her knee.
A neighbor, Moagi Aaron, 32, stays a few meters from where Mahamba fell to the ground.
He unflinchingly told The Voice he saw police officers planting a knife and an axe on the deceased to make it look like he was armed.
“My brother and I saw everything. We could see the police but they could not see us in the moonlight. We saw one officer come to this unfinished room where he picked an axe and then placed it in the hands of Mahamba who was lying on the ground,” claimed Aaron.
He further said he proceeded to the scene with his brother and Mahamaba immediately recognised them.
“He asked for a jacket since he was only in his boxer shots. He then went quiet. I believe he died on the spot. I think the bullet hit him at the back of the neck and exited out his throat,” Aaron concluded somberly, closing his eyes as if to try and rid himself of the gory image engrained inside his head.
Meanwhile, the axe’s owner, Aron Dibitha, 72, was at a loss to explain how his tool ended up in the hands of Mahamba.
“I was shocked to learn from the police that my axe was at the police station. There’s nohow Mahamba could have taken my axe, they were chasing and shooting at him. How could he have taken the axe while he was being shot at and bleeding?” asked the shocked old man.
Amidst all these lingering questions, the Mahamba family have vowed to get to the bottom of the matter to ensure the police account for what they termed a ‘cold blooded murder’.
In a joint statement to The Voice, the Mahamba family said they will not bury their son until the police give them satisfactory answers about ‘Nale’s’ death.
“His crimes are known, but he reported for mention at Shashe-Mooke kgotla every week as per the court order. Everyone knew his whereabouts,” the statement said.
They said police gave them conflicting reports and have flatly refused to tell them what Mahamba was wanted for.
“The police should take responsibility of all funeral arrangements because we intend to move mountains to ensure that those responsible for his murder are brought to book. We are aware of the resources at the police’s disposal which they’ll use to cover their tracks, but we have faith in our judiciary,” the family maintained defiantly.