Rogue officers run amok

2014-01-22 00:00

THE police’s watchdog has been asked to investigate the actions of policemen from the Amanzimtoti police station after they allegedly stormed a private holiday resort complex and threatened resi­dents.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) will also probe claims that residents of the complex were turned away from Durban Central police station when they tried to report the incident.

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni had also instructed that the incident be investigated from a departmental and criminal standpoint when she became aware of the incident, police spokesperson Captain Thulani Zwane said.

Christa Joubert, owner of Wavecrest Holiday Resort in Illovo Beach, said one of the policemen owns one of the units.

“We double lock the gates at the seaside entrance and the body corporate chairperson keeps the keys because we had nine burglaries in six months.

“On January 16 the policeman said he wanted the keys so that he could exit the property but this was refused.”

Joubert said he returned the following day with a “gang of policemen” in a marked police van.

“They tried to cut the locks with a bolt cutter. One of the residents’ children asked them what they were doing and they threatened to shoot him.”

She said they then broke the gate and pushed her in the face.

“They pushed my friend and she broke her hip. They swore at her and we then pulled away because they had guns.”

Joubert said the policemen then left.

She said residents were afraid to report the matter at the local police station. They were turned away by Durban Central police, she said, but eventually managed to register a case.

She said the policemen had caused more than R20 000 in damage and the body corporate was intending taking legal action to recoup the money.

The Democratic Alliance’s Dianne Kohler-Barnard said she was extremely concerned by the police behaviour.

“Armed police [from Amanzimtoti police station] invaded a private complex in Amanzimtoti, pointed firearms, threatened to shoot residents, assaulted them, and attempted to cut through security chains.”

Kohler-Barnard said to add to the complainants’ misery they were turned away from Durban Central police station when they tried to report the matter.

The Witness understands that the complainants were scared to open a case at Amanzimtoti police station.

Zwane said IPID was now dealing with the matter.

Kohler-Barnard said the goings-on at the Amanzimtoti SAPS station are of particular concern. “Over 20 senior members have resigned from that station within the past 18 months. The reasons behind this mass exodus must be revealed, and urgent steps must be taken to prove to civilians that their safety is the prime concern for the SAPS.”

Kohler-Barnard said the “hugely expensive” SAPS appeared to have moved back to the days when they acted without consequences, taking what they wanted, and abusing or shooting anyone who stood in their way.

“I am writing today to the provincial police commissioner asking her to intervene, and to explain just what it is she is doing to bring discipline back to the SAPS in KZN in the face of such rampant abuse of power on their part.”

Kohler-Barnard also raised concerns about three other incidents involving police in KwaZulu-Natal — two of them are related to Amanzimtoti police. She said DA councillor Andre Beetge had a gun pointed at him in December after he reported an incident at a local beach at the Amanzimtoti police station.

Beetge said he went to the police station on December 30 regarding vehicles to assist in what had appeared to be a dangerous situation at one of the local beaches.

“Instead, I was verbally abused, assaulted and had a gun pointed at me,” Beetge said.

“The police are there to protect and to serve,” he added.

Kohler-Barnard said last year seven police, in full uniform, stormed a workshop in five marked police vehicles and a tow truck and forcibly removing a vehicle belonging to a Amanzimtoti policeman. Zwane said in this matter the policeman was found guilty as charged and an appropriate sanction was passed by the presiding officer. “The criminal case against him and other police officers, who assisted him, is still continuing,” he added.

Kohler-Barnard said she was also saddened by Leanne Douglas’s death. Douglas’s car overturned on the N2 after police allegedly opened fire on her.

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