Controversial Police Officer Dies In Shootout
JOHANNESBURG South Africa (AP) _ A policeman accused by black squatters of organizing vigilante gangs was killed in a shootout with a suicidal white man far from the black townships where the officer usually worked.
Warrant Officer Hendrick Barnard, a Cape Town policeman for 20 years, was one of two officers killed Tuesday night by a former mental patient who had been threatening to commit suicide at his house.
The 30-year-old man, identified as Christopher Du Plooy, later was killed by officers who stormed the house in Fish Hoek, a coastal town on the Cape Peninsula.
Barnard, who was white, usually worked in impoverished black townships and squatter camps 15 miles away on the Cape Flats east of Cape Town. Last year, he was injured in a hand grenade attack in one township.
In the past 10 years, many blacks said Barnard was connected with attacks and factional fighting aimed at intimidating or displacing squatters.
Some squatters have banded together to resist attempts to relocate them, and the government considers other squatter communities strongholds of anti- apartheid militants.
Barnard has been mentioned frequently in an ongoing court action filed by squatters who were burned out of their shacks in a section of the Crossroads squatter complex in 1986.
The plaintiffs allege that Barnard and other officers either encouraged or condoned an onslaught on the squatter camp by black vigilantes. Some witnesses have testified they saw Barnard in a van leading a force of 1,000 vigilantes, and others say they saw him distributing incendiary devices.
Scores of people were killed and more than 70,000 burned out of their homes during a series of attacks at Crossroads in May and June 1986.
Barnard, in a sworn affidavit, said police tried to stop the violence but were unable to move through the densely packed shanties in vehicles and considered it too dangerous to go on foot.
Barnard was given a commendation in 1983 for his work in cracking a black car theft and housebreaking ring. In 1986, after complaints by blacks about Barnard intensified, his superiors took the unusual step of introducing him to newsmen and allowing him to answer questions.
His official police record says he frequently worked ″in exceedingly dangerous circumstances during which he at times barely escaped with his life.″