Winnie dodges traffic cops

2011-01-12 00:00

WINNIE Madikizela-Mandela has demanded an apology from two policemen who pulled over the car in which she was travelling for recklessly racing through the traffic at 150 km/h on the M1 freeway.

“Who the f*** do you think you are?” she shouted repeatedly at him and his colleague, Warrant Officer Jannie Odendaal said yesterday.

“I didn’t recognise her, because she had white powder all over her face and looked much older to me than the last time I saw her.”

Odendaal, a member of the Gauteng police’s flying squad, said the driver of the vehicle and its occupants refused to identify themselves.

“I’ve been working my guts out for 19 years in the police, doing my job, and now I have to apologise to her,” Odendaal said yesterday.

A general in the office of Gauteng police chief Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros, told Odendaal that Petros would accompany them to Madikizela-Mandela so that they could apologise to her. Petros would then apologise on behalf of the police.

“I don’t know whether there is still a place for me in the police if they treat me like this. It seems to me they are believing Madikizela-Mandela’s word over mine,” said Odendaal.

Odendaal and his colleague, who did not want his name mentioned and also did not want to talk about the incident, pulled a silver Audi A6 off the road at about 9.50 am on December 30 at an off-ramp from the M1 North.

They were stopping and searching cars on orders from Petros.

Odendaal said they spotted the Audi at an earlier off-ramp and followed it. “We decided to pull it off the road and turned on our sirens and lights,” he said.

The car, which has tinted windows, only stopped five kilometres further on.

“A man leapt out and shouted, ‘Who the hell do you think you are to want to search the vehicle? These are no longer the apartheid years’,” said Odendaal. The man turned out to be one of Madikizela-Mandela’s bodyguards. According to Odendaal the man shoved him in the chest.

“I took a taser gun out of our vehicle to deter him. He then said he is escorting Madikizela-Mandela and they are running very late.”

Odendaal’s colleague insisted on identifying Madikizela-Mandela, but the man refused.

Odendaal said they were in full police uniform and acted very professionally.

Madikizela-Mandela got out of the car, shouted at them, and instructed her bodyguard and driver to get back into the vehicle and drive off.

The two officers recorded the incident in the incidents book, but did not lay any charges, as they reckoned “nothing will come of it, because it’s Madikizela-Mandela”, and then forgot about it.

Last week they were informed that Madikizela-Mandela, her bodyguard and her driver had laid three criminal charges against them.

Odendaal said he was originally prepared to swallow his pride and apologise, but he has now decided against it. Both officers were transferred to other sections in the police on Friday pending the completion of an internal investigation.

“We were asked to write a report, which we did. Two days later we had to go to the provincial office, where a general told us that Madikizela-Mandela will withdraw the charges against us if we go and apologise to her personally,” said Odendaal.

Police spokesperson Colonel Neville Malila said criminal charges for pointing a weapon and for intimidation are being investigated against Odendaal and his colleague. An internal investigation is also being conducted.

He said the two have not spoken to Petros, and that they regard the case as sub judice.

Zodwa Zwane, Madikizela-Mandela’s spokesperson, said she caould not reach Madikizela-Mandela, but referred Beeld to “the minister of the commissioner of police”.

Pieter du Toit reports that DA spokesperson on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, says the incident is beyond her understanding. “I have stopped counting how many times ANC big shots are simply let off. Ordinary people are locked up, but not ANC members.”

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