Zimbabwe Refugee Sues Defence Minister Over Border Shooting

SW Radio Africa (London)

Pretoria's High Court has ruled to allow a Zimbabwean refugee the right to sue the country's defence minister, Mosiuoa Lekota, after South African soldiers shot him in the arm near the border in 2005.
Tobby Mpofu who now lives in South Africa's

Hillbrow suburb is suing for R500 000, after a group of soldiers opened fire on a truck he was travelling in. In papers filed in court he said he crossed the border using his passport with the intention of claiming asylum in Johannesburg. He got a lift in a bakkie truck with 8 other people and sat in the rear under the canopy.

Mpofu says he was asleep during the attack and woke up to discover that he had been shot near the elbow. He collapsed within a short space of time and only regained consciousness at Musina Hospital. He woke up with two uniformed soldiers, the driver of the bakkie and a number of nurses standing on the other side of the bed. The nurses reported the matter to the police who are said to have taken affidavits from the soldiers. The soldiers claim they were performing their official duties but it remains unclear why they shot at the car.

The group was patrolling the Nzhelele Dam road when a soldier identified as Skokka Nzira allegedly fired at the vehicle twice when his colleagues had stopped it. Mpofu was hit on the arm while another passenger was hit on the head. Mpofu was granted asylum in South Africa last year and this week he sought the intervention of the High Court after the time he was supposed to have filed his claim had elapsed. The court paved the way for him to proceed with his claim.

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