Police vindicated in French couple killing

Thursday, May 5, 2011
By: 
Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) has vindicated the police in the death of a runaway French couple believed to have died following a shootout with police in Northern Cape's Sunderland district earlier this year.

The ICD has found that the couple died of contact gunshot wounds to the head, And were already "clinically dead" by the time the police shot at them.

At the time of the incident, the couple was "heavily armed" and carried a M16 rifle and 9mm pistol, Northern Cape ICD head Dan Morema told journalists in Cape Town during a briefing on the matter earlier today.

He said when the police approached the house in which the couple was hiding, they heard gunshots and thought they were being fired at. It turns out the husband had shot his wife and then turned the gun on himself.

Asked about the exchange of gunfire with the police, who were also heavily armed, Morema reiterated that suicide had been the cause of the couple's death and that police had shot at "dead bodies."

ICD executive director, Francois Beukman, said they interviewed a number of police officers and assessed the crime scene.

He said the autopsy examinations of the deceased couple were conducted on 25 January by two pathologists.

Beukman said they then attended the postmortems along with the police, the Ballistic Unit from Cape Town, The French Consulate, among others.

"The cause of death for both deceased was indicated as contact gunshot wounds to the head with a high velocity firearm. The ballistic report was consistent with the rest of the investigation."

He said the deaths could not be attributed to the actions of the SAPS members, and that it was evident the wounds inflicted by the police shots did not cause death as the couple was already "clinically dead."

The ICD said they wanted to clarify that matter as there had been a lot of publicity and "confusion" when the incident happened.

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