An early morning drive to buy food turned into a tragedy for Mbombela couple Mervyn and Milly Masher in the early hours of Sunday morning, Lowvelder reports.
After a series of events, Mervyn was shot and killed by police. According to the family, he was wearing his pyjamas.
It started when the couple arrived at an accident scene near Tiger Wheel and Tyre on the R40. The accident took place about 100 metres north of the intersection, on the south-bound lanes.
According to police sources, two cars and a motorcycle were involved.
The motorcycle allegedly drove into the car in front of it, and another car drove into the bike. A female passenger in the front car was then struck by another passing vehicle, as she was opening her door to alight from the vehicle.
She died on the scene, while the vehicle fled. Police have not released her name and had no description of the hit-and-run vehicle at the time of publication.
The other driver sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment.
When Mervyn, a paramedic, arrived on the scene, he attempted to provide assistance to the accident victim.
According to the statement from the family, one of the bikers tried to stop Mervyn from providing first aid, which resulted in an argument.
Police then ordered everyone on the scene, including the Mashers, bikers and tow truck drivers, to the ground.
According to SAPS provincial spokesperson, Col Mthsoli Bhembe, Mervyn drew a firearm. A police officer opened fire and shot him in the side of his head.
Mervyn’s firearm was later discovered to be a toy gun, according to police.
The police’s version of events has, however, caused an uproar with the Masher family claiming that his firearm was not drawn and that he complied with the instructions. They allege that Mervyn posed no threat to the policeman and had his firearm holstered under his pyjamas.
“To the surprise of all, including the late Mervyn’s wife, the officer, who had his service pistol withdrawn already, shot Mervyn at point-blank range in the side of the head, execution style, killing him instantly for no reason,” the family’s statement reads.
The family is disputing the SAPS’ version of events, adding that the photographs taken at the scene by an IPID official will attest that Mervyn’s firearm had not been drawn or pointed at anyone.
They further allege that Milly was placed in the back of a police van while she pleaded with police to seek medical treatment for her husband, but to no avail. Police are alleged to have held her for an hour while he died.
The Masher family is demanding a thorough investigation into the shooting, and are calling on IPID, the NPA and SAPS national commissioner, Gen Khehla Sithole and provincial commissioner, Gen Bethuel Zuma for the immediate arrest of the police officer implicated in the shooting.
Investigations into the shooting are being headed by IPID, which did not respond to requests for information by Lowvelder.
The 43-year-old Mervyn is survived by his wife Milly, his three sons, Tashrique, Joshua, Callen, his mother, Rosemary and two brothers, Donovan and Bernard.