Two local residents who claim they were assaulted by police over the weekend have opened cases against the law enforcement officials.
One of the victims, 29-year-old Ntombizodwa Sotomela, said she was walking with a group of friends in town around 11pm last Thursday to withdraw money from a bank. “A police van occupied by three police officials stopped next to us. One of them got out of the vehicle and asked what I was saying. He slapped me twice and another official got out of the van and said I should be put into the vehicle. They did not tell me why I was arrested, instead I was insulted. I was released the following day after I had requested to see the station commander. I do not think it is policy to assault us. The law must take its course and I hope they are suspended.”
Sotomela said she hoped this would be addressed, adding that the police should take further steps to hold these police officials accountable.
In a separate incident, Mzoxolo Kwaza, who was celebrating his birthday, also claimed misconduct by the police when he and his friend were allegedly beaten on Sunday night. “We were parked near an ATM in town because I had to withdraw money. Apparently the police insisted that we drive off but I was still using the ATM. When I went back to the car, my friend was being physically assaulted. When I tried to stop the policeman I was physically assaulted myself. I was taken to the police station and had to hand over my belongings, which included two cellphones, my wallet and a belt.”
Kwaza said the police continued with the assault at the police station and he had recorded the incident on his smart phone. When he was released the following morning his cellphone was missing.
“While I was in the cell, two police officials insisted I give them my cell phone password so they could delete the recording. These people are meant to protect us, but they are failing the community. This means my safety is also compromised because after this incident they saw me at the doctor’s rooms and threatened me,” he said.
Police spokesperson captain Namhla Mdleleni said cases against the police were investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid). “If anyone claims that a crime is allegedly committed by the police he or she can report such cases. Statements will be obtained and the case will be referred to Ipid for investigation.”