Winnie highway clash - cops suspended
Pretoria - Two policemen involved in an altercation with ANC veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and her bodyguards have been suspended, a police spokesperson said on Monday.
Colonel Neville Malila said Warrant Officer Jannie Odendaal and Constable Abel Twala were suspended with full salary and benefits pending the finalisation of disciplinary proceedings against them.
Odendaal filed charges of defeating the ends of justice, assault and reckless and negligent driving against Madikizela-Mandela and her bodyguard at the Brooklyn Police Station on Friday.
He and Constable Abel Twala stopped Madikizela-Mandela's car on the M1 north in Johannesburg in December because it was allegedly being driven recklessly at 150km/h.
The policemen said they believed the silver Audi A6 with tinted windows was "suspicious".
After stopping the vehicle, a bodyguard got out and told Odendaal that Madikizela-Mandela was in the car.
An argument ensued between the bodyguards and the policemen.
The bodyguards have brought charges of pointing of a firearm and intimidation against the policemen.
In line with police internal disciplinary regulations, the policemen were temporally transferred. They also had to hand in their guns.
Odendaal's suspension was "highly suspicious" coming so soon after he laid the charges at the Brooklyn Police Station, Solidarity trade union's secretary general Dirk Hermann said in a statement on Monday.
"The letter of suspension does not provide any reasons for his suspension, but does emphasise that should he be found guilty on the charge against him, he may face dismissal," said Hermann.
Malila said the suspension were made in terms of the SA Police Service disciplinary regulations and that, should criminal proceedings be instituted against the two men, they could be suspended without benefits.
"Charge sheets were drawn up last week and were due to be served on the members.
"They were, however, not served when further information came to the attention of the employer which may result in additional charges being added to the charge sheets," he said.
Hermann said the suspension of a police officer who was "merely doing his job" was cause for concern.
"There is something wrong when police members have to turn a blind eye every time a political role-player commits an offence. When police members' jobs are at risk because they did their work, there is definitely reason to be concerned," he said.