An African Methodist Episcopal Church priest, who was once shot at by the police after they had mistaken him for the deceased notorious criminal Ananias Mathe, said he was now fearing for his life.
Reverend Motlotlo Rabotapi, who has a striking resemblance to the once-feared thug, said people were now claiming he was Mathe and had faked his death.
Rabotapi, 50, told Sunday World this week that he was shot twice in his leg, allegedly by the SAPS Pretoria task team in November 2006 after they received a tip-off from a shop owner in Mabopane, north of Pretoria, who said he had seen Mathe, who had escaped from prison at the time.
He said 10 years after the incident, all he received from the police was an “askies”.
Rabotapi said he had to leave Pretoria after Mathe’s death because he feared the same would happen to him as people were posting on social media that Mathe faked his own death to get out of prison.
The pastor, who now resides in a village outside Mahikeng in North West, said the police owed him almost R8-million in compensation for being shot at in a mistaken identity case.
Rabotapi said he launched the lawsuit after the incident but the process was moving at a snail’s pace while he and his family were starving.
Detailing what happened on the day of his shooting, Rabotapi said he was coming from a local spaza shop where he went to buy a newspaper after his home-visit duties as a pastor when a car stopped behind him.
“The car just stopped and I continued walking because I did not suspect anything. The next thing I heard guns cocking and I looked back. Then I saw four people pointing guns at me. At the time I thought they were criminals because they were not wearing any uniform. The next thing they started shooting at me. I was carrying a small bag and I had a Bible in my hand.
“They never bothered to ask me who I was. They just started shooting and it was only after one of the church members who was a police captain arrived at the scene that they stopped shooting. He explained to them that I was his pastor from the church.”
Rabotapi said he spent six months in bed nursing his bullet wounds.
He said during the incident, one police officer said he should be shot in the head.
“After that all they could say was ‘askies we thought you were Ananias Mathe. That’s why we started by shooting because that man is dangerous’.”
Police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone confirmed Rabotapi was suing the state following a decision not to prosecute the police who shot at him.
“. The initial case of attempted murder was withdrawn and the court advised the complainant to consider pursuing a civil case. [He] also lodged a complaint against the police which was investigated .”