When Patrick Komana, 35, arrived home on Wednesday night, he found his neighbourhood swarming with police officers.
Seeing the area in turmoil, Komana took a short cut by climbing over a tiny shack to get home.
That split-second decision would have serious ramifications for the Zandspruit father of two. He claims he was shot twice at close range in front of his wife and screaming child and hauled away.
The couple say police said he had instigated others to stone them, and had then fled.
For two nights, his distressed family went from one police station to the next, asking for his whereabouts – and received no answers.
They went from the Honeydew police station and the Roodepoort police station to Leratong Hospital without any success. It was only at about 4pm the next day that they found him at at the Randburg police station.
They say they were not allowed to see him, though, as visiting hours were over. He was facing a public violence charge and being kept in police cells.
When Komana had left home earlier that morning, residents were on the rampage already, burning tyres to protest against a lack of service delivery, according to his wife, Portia Mathebula, 29.
When he arrived home from work in the evening, tension between residents and the police still hung in the air.
Mathebula said two police officers opened the door two minutes after her husband had barged in, stepped in and found him on the bed.
“Come out. Out! Let’s go. We saw you jump over shacks. You are one of those that have been stoning us.”
Komana refused to go, telling the police officers he had been at work the whole day.
Mathebula said one of the officers then shot her husband at close range, the rubber bullets hitting him on the shoulder.
The couple’s three-year-old son screamed in terror.
Mathebula said she tried to reason with the two police officers, but her pleas fell on deaf ears. As she was trying to explain, she said, the second policeman also shot Komana, sending the little boy into a frenzy of cries and screams.
Long after the police officers had gone, the child had not slept.
“He kept crying, saying, ‘They have shot daddy, they have shot daddy!’” said Mathebula.
Komana’s employer expressed shock at how the police had treated his employee when he had had nothing to do with the protest.
The man, who asked not to be named, said he got a call from Komana at about 5.53pm saying he had been shot and was being held underneath a bridge in Beyers Naude Drive.
“I tried to speak to one of the officers, but he did not give me a chance to talk. He kept asking me whether Patrick had told me that he was on the roof of one of the shacks,” the man said.
Captain Lydia Mtila-Dikolomela said Komana had been charged with public violence and would have to tell his side of the story in court. Only then might he be released.
Komana was expected to appear in the Randburg Magistrate’s Court today.