Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has been ordered to pay more than R17 million in damages to a young Soshanguve man who is a quadriplegic after he was shot by the police while being hijacked five years ago. The High Court in Pretoria ordered the minister to compensate Mandla Vincent Mnisi, 35, for his ordeal stemming from the police opening fire on his Mercedes Benz on a Pretoria street one night in August 2011.
Mnisi and a female friend were hijacked while they were sitting in his parked car. Three hijackers drove off with the vehicle, with Mnisi sitting in the backseat with his head between his legs as instructed, with two of the hijackers sitting on each side, while the third man drove the car with Mnisi’s friend still in the passenger seat. While they were driving they heard police sirens.
Mnisi was instructed to sit up. Then hijackers then started to argue among themselves if they should stop for the police, but one of them refused, and shortly after, police opened fire.
Mnisi was hit in the stomach, knee and back, while his female friend was shot in the leg. Two of the hijackers died at the scene as a result of gunshot wounds. Two of the men involved in the hijacking were in July 2013 found guilty or robbery and kidnapping and sentenced to 12 and 14 years’ imprisonment.
Mnisi said in court papers none of the hijackers ever fired their firearms during the incident and the police who fired shots at his vehicle did not try to stop it by shooting at the tyres, but were instead shooting to hurt or kill the passengers. He claimed the shooting was wrongful and unlawful, as the degree of force used was unreasonable and unnecessary in the circumstances to bring about the arrest of the hijackers.
His vehicle was written off as a result of the damage caused by about 45 bullet holes. Mnisi is now permanently disabled and disfigured. Apart from specialist equipment, therapy, caregiving and medical treatment, he also needs psychiatric and psychological counselling and medication for severe depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mnisi sued the police not only for his past and future medical costs but also for his pain, suffering and loss of earnings.