Cops beat me, says transport unit head

2012-02-21 00:00

THE head of the provincial Transport Department’s special operation task unit, Operation Shanela, claims to have been assaulted by police at his home in the city.

Commander Sibusiso Sithole was allegedly assaulted at the weekend and charged with resisting arrest and assaulting police officers.

He said this followed what he described as a false tip-off to police about a domestic violence matter.

The case against Sithole was not enrolled at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court as there was apparently no evidence to support the assault charge.

He asked The Witness to keep the location of his home secret because of concerns about his safety. He also asked not to be photographed.

Sithole said: “The police arrived on the first occasion, saying they had been informed by a concerned member of the public that there were screams coming from my house.”

He and his wife told the police that there was nothing untoward occurring.

His wife left the house to go to church. A few minutes later police arrived again, he said, and pointed their firearms at him.

“I asked who their leader was, but he was not prepared to speak to me.

“They then started forcing their way in to my house without a warrant. I was trying to be professional, but I was badly treated in my own house.

“They sprayed pepper spray at me, and while I was confused and could not see what was happening they started assaulting me.

“They put handcuffs on me and took me to the police station. I was arrested and they did not continue with their search.”

Sithole’s wife, Sibongile, told The Witness that she was surprised at the arrival of police while she was preparing to go to church.

She was phoned later and told that the police had returned to their home and her husband had been arrested.

“I don’t know who phoned about the screams that were coming from our house, and I don’t know why they returned for the second time,” she said.

Despite his bad experience, Sithole said he was “grateful” he had witnessed the behaviour of the police in his role as a commander.

“It’s of great assistance to be able to see the manner in which police officials conduct themselves during their so-called operations.

“I also suspect a plot against me in this thing.”

Sithole left hospital yesterday morning so he could appear in court, but the case was not on the roll.

Later he returned to hospital as his injuries required further treatment.

The family’s lawyer, Phumlani Fakude, said they were considering filing criminal and civil cases against the state.

KZN police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said police would be able to comment on the case only after the docket had been returned from court.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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