The latest murder of a microbus driver named Gamal Abdullah, 20, by the hands of a non-commissioned police officer has revealed a troubled relationship between drivers and the police apparatus.
On Monday, a policeman from Al-Sharabia police station shot a microbus driver dead after he refused to give the officer a ride for a “work errand”, leading to an argument during which the driver was shot in the head. According to the Ministry of Interior narrative, however, the officer was on duty and intervened to break up a fight at the microbus stop, where he fired a warning shot that unfortunately hit the victim.
The suspect will be interrogated by the prosecution, which ordered his detention pending investigations for four days.
Following the incident, Gamal Abdullah’s colleagues in the Arab Al-Maadi microbus stop staged a strike, demanding justice. The strike took place during the early hours of Monday, causing severe traffic and congestion in the area. The strike, however, was quelled by the police who threatened drivers and demanded that they keep working.
A colleague of the deceased said that he is originally from Beni Suef, and that he came all the way to Cairo to earn a living. He added that several of the drivers have to pay royalties to non-commissioned police officers in order to be able to operate at the microbus stop. The driver, who talked to Daily News Egypt over the phone on condition of anonymity, said that the stop is not organised by the government, which allows “well-known officers and thugs” to collect bribes from the drivers.
“The drivers want to make a living, so they have to pay. But the worst thing is when the officers want favours from the drivers,” he added, saying that when officials intervene, they describe the drivers as thugs and call on them to decrease the fee for riding on the microbus.
Witnesses told Daily News Egypt that the officer wanted Abdullah to go with him on a “police work errand”.
The Ministry of Interior, however, provided a different narrative, saying that the officer received a report of a brawl between the victim and another microbus driver.
“The officer fired a warning shot by mistake, hitting the driver in the neck, resulting in his death,” read the statement released on Monday.
A report by the Forensic Medicine Department is yet to be released, to identify the details of the autopsy.
Since the beginning of 2016, there has been a string of cases of police abuse directed against civilians. However, the Ministry of Interior has repeatedly denied accusations of systematic and widespread abuses of state power.
During the month of July, according to a report issued by El Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, 99 people were killed by security forces. One of casualties was the killing of a man during a police chase, in which a police force fired at a civilian in Mansoura, ultimately killing him. Angry civilians detained some of the police officers as a reaction. The officers were later released following the intervention of the armed forces.