The Star Late Edition
Girl fighting for life after cop father guns down wife and child
SEEMED HAPPY: Lucas Motaung and his wife Phindile. AS LITTLE Khumo Motaung fights for her life in hospital, her relatives are battling to discover what drove her apparently loving father to shoot her and then gun down her twomonth-old brother, their mother and himself.
The murders and suicide occurred on Saturday afternoon, hours before the young Pretoria family could welcome the new year.
Colleagues at the Garsfontein police station in Tshwane, where Constable Lucas Motaung, 30, was stationed, said that when they last saw him on duty, he seemed excited about spending the weekend with his children and wife. Fellow police officers said Motaung had spent the Christmas weekend working and was determined to spend the New Year’s weekend with his family, who he had missed “terribly” while working over Christmas.
The family’s planned festivities, however, ended in bloodshed when, hours before they were due to welcome 2012, Motaung – enraged by an apparent argument – opened fire on the three as they lay in bed in their West Park flat.
It is believed that Motaung – who phoned his parents shortly before the killings – used his service pistol to shoot twomonth-old Bokamoso first, before turning his gun on his wife and daughter.
Police believe Khumo, 3, narrowly escaped death when her mother Phindile, 24, a medical technologist at Kalafong Hospital, tried to wrestle the NIGHTMARE: Bokamoso Motaung was shot dead and Khumo Motaung is clinging to life in hospital. gun away from Motaung.
They think a gunshot went off during the struggle and struck Khumo in the head.
Motaung is believed to have shot his wife in the head before shooting himself.
The shootings have left the couple’s families shattered.
Motaung’s brother, Daniel Motaung, said they did not know what to think.
“None of this seems real. It feels as though it is a bad dream which I will wake up from. My brother was not the type of person to do something like this. He loved them so much. His family was his life and he adored his children more than anything else in the world.
“I last saw them on Wednesday, when I went to sleep over at their flat. They wanted me to move in. They seemed so happy and in love. Everything seemed fine, until Saturday,” Daniel said, describing how friends had phoned in a panic looking for the couple.
Daniel said the friend had asked him if everything was all right with the family and if he had heard from his brother.
“I was confused and immediately began to worry when my friend told me there was a strange message on Lucas’s Facebook site. I tried phoning Lucas but he didn’t answer. Then another friend came to our house and asked if we had heard from Phindile.”
Worried, Daniel phoned his sister-in-law. Instead, a police officer told him that his brother had murdered his wife and son, critically injured his daughter before he killing himself.
A neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the couple had been extremely friendly.
“They were such nice people. I just can’t imagine this happening. It doesn’t make any sense. I saw Phindile this morning (Saturday) and she seemed so happy. We spoke about our plans for the evening and then I left for work. I never thought I would never see her again. I never thought that such a kind and caring father could murder his children,” she said.
The Motaungs’ rental agent, Lucy Mendos, said Lucas was an extremely kind person.
A colleague of Lucas’s said he was a hard-working policeman who loved his job and his community.
“He lived for his family and his job and loved helping people. He was always prepared to go the extra mile. We are dumbstruck by this. There was no indication that this was going to happen,” he said.
Netcare 911 spokesman Jeff Wicks said Khumo was airlifted to Netcare Garden City, where she remained in a stable but critical condition late yesterday.
Police spokeswoman Captain Pinky Tsinyane said information indicated that there had been an argument, followed by a series of gunshots.