Johannesburg – Tempers have been rising following the fatal shooting of South African former rugby player Lindani Myeni at the hands of police in the United States last week.
The 29-year-old from KwaZulu Natal was killed by police in Hawaii after they accused him of illegally entering a house in his neighbourhood and displaying erratic behaviour.
American police claim Myeni attacked them. They have released a video showing a scuffle between Myeni and the police before one of the latter opens fire. What remains a mystery is what happened before the police arrived.
The killing happened days ahead of the conviction of a policeman for the killing of unarmed black man, George Floyd, last year; and the recent death of another person of colour, Daunte Wright, at the hands of uniformed officers.
South African Ambassador to the US Nomaindia Mfeketo condemned police brutality, saying Myeni was a victim of racism.
South Africa’s Department of International Relations (DIRCO) said it was taking the matter seriously and would push to see justice prevail.
“We as DIRCO have been alerted to the incident and through our mission in the US we have asked them to assist with their response and we are still awaiting their response,” said Dirco’s Lunga Ngqengelele.
Spokesperson at the US Embassy in South Africa, Robert Mearkle, said: “This is a tragic incident, and we are carefully following the investigation by local Hawaiian authorities into the details of Mr Myeni’s tragic death. The US Mission in South Africa expresses its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of Lindani Myeni.”
Social media has been on fire with voices calling for a stiff action against police brutality and institutionalised racism in the US.
The Southern Times spoke to diplomatic analyst Meyson Kange, who said: “The South African Government needs to demand answers from the US Government. The footage released by police is not convincing. They need to release all the footage, unedited. Come to think of it, Lindani was walking in the street when he was pointed out as a robber. Three cops, one man. He was not a threat to them.
“It is more worrisome to note the trend that the US police always manage to bring in armed white guys who’ve just perpetrated mass shootings without a scratch on them all the time but can’t bring in an unarmed black guy into custody alive. It’s senseless.”
Myeni’s uncle Andlile Xaki said the wife of the slain man, Lindsay, had written to the family in February to update them about life in Hawaii and in the letter she mentioned that they were facing a lot of racism directed at her husband.
“She also raised concern about how this was affecting Lindani, their children, and the family. The house that Lindani allegedly went through is just five houses away from his home on the same street, so they knew him,” said Xaki.”
His death comes amid the murder trial of George Floyd, and unrelenting protests following the death of yet another black man, Daunte Wright. Both men were allegedly killed by police officials in Minneapolis.