Komani lawyer Wesley Hayes was furious that his client had to spend hours at the Komani police station when the police refused to open a case of trespassing against her husband, a policeman recently.
The anonymous client said the police on the ground floor where cases are opened refused to open a case and had sent her to two detectives in their office on the top floor.
She said, “While the detectives were inquiring about the case another top police officer walked into the office and said he was going to choose to be biased and not open the case because he knew my husband.” She declined to give the name of the police officer for fear of intimidation.
Hayes said the police officers had no right to refuse to open a case. “When a case is opened it is given a number and given to the investigating officer to work with. He then hands it over to a prosecutor who decides whether to prosecute or not. We have been here all day since 8am.”
He demanded to know why his client was taken to a separate room while the rest of the people were attended to in the charge office.
“It is because it is against a police officer – that is why they are fighting us.”
Hayes said he was taking the issue to the regional SAPS office and that emails had been sent.
According to him this was not the first such incident. “I was previously here with another client who was a divorced gentleman who had been beaten by his wife, but the police refused to open a case.”
He said there were other people waiting, who had not been attended to since the morning.
Hayes contacted the Komani station commander, Colonel Loyiso Ngalo, who was out of town at the time, and said, “Ngalo told me to ask the unwilling police officer again, but he again refused. He referred us to another woman who said I was not allowed to record what was happening, but it is lawful in public spaces.”
Ngalo arrived after 2pm and intervened, and the case was opened.
Police captain Namhla Mdleleni said no one was above the law, including the police. “If any person commits a crime a case has to be opened against them. If the complainant is still not satisfied they are welcome to discuss the issue with the station commander. If they are still unhappy an internal investigation will be conducted.”