Medics claim cop assault came out of the blue

2012-07-16 00:00

PARAMEDIC Khaya Cele and his friend Mbongeni Dladla, a nurse at Greys Hospital were assaulted, allegedly by police outside his home in Mcleroy Road in Northern Park on Sunday last week.

Cele (23) and Dlala (31), and two others — one of them a neighbour — had come home from a church service in Durban in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Cele said he got out of the car to open the gate and saw that it was locked. He said he was phoning his aunt inside the house to unlock the gate for them when the police arrived.

“They asked what we were doing, and I told them that this is where we live,” he said.

Cele said he was asked the same question two times, after which he responded: “Is that a trick question?

“Both officers then came out of the car. One grabbed me and pushed me against the wall and slapped me. When I asked him why he was slapping me, he threw a punch,” Cele said.

Cele said the officer drew his firearm, and pistol-whipped him on the head.

The other officer allegedly rushed to the car and called for backup. “As the officer was hitting me, Mbongeni tried to pull me away, and the other one hit him with his firearm, breaking his hand in the process.”

He claimed the beating continued as other officers arrived. They were also pepper-sprayed.

Their two other friends escaped after they were also assaulted. They were taken to Townhill police station, and later transferred to Mountain Rise.

Cele’s mother, who had stayed behind in Durban, got the news from a neighbour.

Ntombi Cele, a former Umgungundlovu District councillor said she went to Townhill police station to demand that they be released because Dladla was injured. “I was told by a senior officer at the police station that they had a few scratches,” said Ntombi Cele.

“It was only in the morning when police changed their shift that an ambulance was called.”

Describing the incident as being racially motivated, she said: “You cannot arrest someone outside of their home.”

She said a similar incident happened last year when her eldest son was getting married at their home in Northern Park.

“We will need counselling because we do not feel safe. I am angry. I get nervous when I see a police van. My children are now afraid of the police.”

Khaya Cele and Dladla were charged with assault, and appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. But Ntombi Cele was shocked as to how they could have been charged for assaulting armed police. “I don’t understand how armed police can be assaulted,” she said.

Police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said it was alleged that the police were assaulted by the four men.

“Two of the suspects were arrested with the assistance of the K9 unit while two fled. Charges of assault are being investigated,” he said.

“The arrested men opened countercharges against the police alleging that police pepper-sprayed and assaulted them,” Zwane said.

He said the allegations were being investigated.

• lunga.biyela@witness.co.za

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