Beaten into hospital in Kimberley

2015-04-19 15:00

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Michael Minnaar* has had first-hand experience of the brutality meted out at the Kimberley Police Station, against whose officers 281 charges of assault and torture have been laid in the past 10 years.

But residents of the Northern Cape capital say many other cases have gone unreported.

City Press spoke to Minnaar at his home in the township of Colville.

He says it was in June last year when the police pepper-sprayed, beat and kicked him in the groin until his kidneys ached and he urinated blood.

Minnaar’s mother begged for his identity to be kept secret, saying more trouble from the police would follow if he spoke out.

The 29-year-old says he was at a friend’s house when two people from the neighbourhood tried to enter, saying they wanted to buy drugs.

Minnaar took their money – a R20 note – and told them he did not sell drugs. But he didn’t give the R20 back and the two called the police, who arrived shortly thereafter.

“The police threw me in the van and took me to Transvaal Road in town. When we parked, I told them the guys had broken into someone else’s house, stolen a laptop and a phone and that’s where they had got the money from,” he said.

“The police didn’t want to listen. They hit me and sprayed me with pepper spray. When I asked them why they were beating me up, they told me to shut up.”

Minnaar recalls how he was taken to an empty cell, where the beating continued.

He says he was kicked in the groin, thrown against a wall and kicked in the stomach.

He thought the six officers – whose names are known to City Press, and whose faces he clearly remembers – would never stop. Then they did – only to start again.

He was taken to another cell, which was occupied by other suspects, and he spent the night there.

The next morning, he begged to see a doctor because his kidneys ached and he was urinating blood.

He was then taken to hospital, where doctors told him his kidneys were heavily bruised. He claims the doctor told him it was no use filing a complaint against the police, because not much would come of it.

When Minnaar was taken back to the police station, he discovered the theft case against him had been dropped. He then, with his father, went to open a case of assault at the local Ipid offices.

Besides a visit late last year from two Ipid investigators, nothing has come of his case.

City Press approached Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini for comment on Minnaar’s case two weeks ago, but none was forthcoming.

Another alleged victim of police abuse lives down the road from Minnaar.

“There’s a guy I know from the other side of the street who was arrested for robbery in December.

“The police beat him up so badly, they broke his hands and ankles. He can’t move now,” said Minnaar.

The man, who City Press went to visit, confirmed he had not filed a complaint with Ipid.

“It’s no use anyway, and I don’t need any more trouble from the police,” he said.

Student Pogisho Khati, who lives in the nearby township of Galeshewe, said he was also assaulted by police.

“I was walking with a few friends after dark in town when police officers stopped us and said they were looking for weapons.

“They didn’t find anything on us, but they pushed us and kicked us and just left us there,” he said.

Khati also did not file a complaint, believing it would come to nothing.

The police station in Galeshewe has recorded the second-highest figures of torture and assault in the province after Kimberley.

An elderly woman told City Press she had seen a “couple” of local teenagers being “pulled around” by police officers the day before.

“But nobody went outside to help them. Everyone here is scared of the police,” she said.

*Not his real name

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