SA rugby journalist accused of dealing drugs in New Zealand

2011-09-26 09:00

South African rugby journalist Vata Ngobeni was detained in New Zealand in the early hours of this morning when Taupo police removed him from a local pub suspecting he was a drug dealer.

Ngobeni, an employee of Pretoria News and rugby analyst for the South African Broadcasting Commission (SABC), was the only black person in the pub at the time, said a Sapa journalist travelling with him.

Ngobeni was taken to a police station and searched. He had to remove items of clothing.

“I have never been so embarrassed in my life,” said Ngobeni who was released shortly after he was searched.

“I have never experienced this kind of treatment in all my travels around the world, so to be singled out as a common criminal in front of so many people is something I will never forget.”

When police approached him, Ngobeni tried to explain that he was a journalist on tour covering the Springboks – in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup – for television, radio and his newspaper.

An officer responded by saying that Ngobeni fitted the profile of a drug dealer. They had to conduct a search at a local police station.

Police officers on the scene said they were following what they called standard procedure.

Taupo residents who witnessed the scene expressed sympathy for Ngobeni.

“There are some idiots in the pig factory (police station) in this town,” said an elderly man.

Another commented “you will find that the police pick up all the old cars with black drivers”.

Ngobeni later received an apology from police, but said: “I won’t be visiting Taupo again, that is for sure.”

Ngobeni said he had never before seen the inside of a police station – never mind being asked to get into a police vehicle in front of a crowd of people.

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