Call to suspend cops

2013-06-06 00:00

POLITICAL parties in the KZN Legislature called for harsher action against and the suspension of eight police officers who stormed a vehicle repair workshop in Amanzimtoti last Monday.

The officers are attached to the Amanzimtoti police station and Umlazi tactical response task (TRT) unit.

The uniformed officers stormed the workshop and removed their colleague’s vehicle, which was being held by the business for unpaid bills.

Speaking at the Legislature, Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willis Mchunu said reports are that a warrant officer, whose name was withheld, had taken his private vehicle to Barry’s Auto Clinic at Amanzimtoti for repairs last December.

After he accepted the R25 000 quote, the repairs to the vehicle were completed in January 2013.

Mchunu said the officer paid R8 000 and was informed that R300 a day would be charged for storage, which he had also accepted.

He said after three months the workshop owner informed the officer that he was to hand the matter over to his attorneys and sell the vehicle to recover his costs.

It was only then that the officer paid for repairs, but did not pay the storage fees.

The officer arrived at the workshop on May 20 with eight other officers in three marked police vehicles and forced their way into the garage with a privately-owned tow truck to tow the vehicle away.

Mchunu said provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni has since confirmed the officers’ alleged conduct on May 20, and that CCTV footage showed two of the vehicles used during the storming of the workshop belonged to the Umlazi TRT and three others to the Amanzimtoti police, and their drivers were identified as police officers.

Criminal charges including intimidation have been opened at Amanzimtoti police station.

Once the police investigation has been finalised, the disciplinary steps will be instituted against the members involved, Ngobeni said at the time.

“We condemn these illegal actions in the strongest possible terms,” Mchunu said.

He said he referred the matter to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

All political parties in the legislature condemned the officers involved.

“I hope we will have a finalised disciplinary hearing with proper results,” IFP Lourens de Klerk said.

Transport portfolio committee chairperson Bheki Ntuli said such behaviour displayed by the officers would make it difficult for communities to co-operate with the police, while the DA called for immediate suspension of the officers.

However, although Mchunu welcomed the remarks by the parties, he said he had ordered that the officers not be suspended until procedures were properly followed in terms of the Labour Relations Act and departmental policies. This is so that they could not challenge their suspensions in court and be reinstated.

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