'Wrongfully arrested' attorney lodges complaints against police

2017-01-31 22:31
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Cape Town - A Cape Town attorney has lodged criminal complaints against Athlone police officers after he was allegedly wrongfully arrested and thrown into the station's holding cells with gangsters and hardened criminals.

Mogammad Galant, 30, lodged complaints of intimidation and assault against one of the officers, as well as a complaint with police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) after his release on bail following a night behind bars.

The attorney was arrested and charged for defeating the ends of justice and interfering with police officials while executing their duties, police spokesperson Captain FC Van Wyk told News24.

Van Wyk said according to police, officers were executing search warrants at a house in Rondebosch East when the owner refused to open the door and called an attorney.

Van Wyk said when the lawyer arrived he was given the warrant "which he perused and then frumbled up [sic]" before he "threw it on the floor".

According to Galant, he received a call from a client who lives close to his Rondebosch East home on Friday.

Previous civil case

A raid was being conducted at the home of the client who was accused of dealing in drugs.

However, no contraband was discovered during last week's raid, nor during a raid in 2016.

"We are currently in the process of lodging a civil case against the police minister after an illegal search without a warrant was conducted at the same client's house a year ago. The woman who had taken the decision to sue had died two weeks ago, which is probably why the police had returned," he said.

This time, Galant continued, police had a warrant and he advised his client to open the door "before the police kicked it down".

His client told Galant that the officers were breaking down his cupboards and wanted to tear open the beds.

When Galant arrived at the Third Avenue house, 15 officers were on the property, he said.

He was handed the search warrant and turned on his cellphone to record the events.

Galant suffers from arthritis and uses his cellphone for all his records as he finds writing difficult, he said.

"I started my recording of the state of the house, going from room to room. The officers started to leave when my client shouted that the police were coming for me," he said.

'Never practice law again'

Galant claimed two police officers grabbed his arm and cuffed him, before putting him and his client in the back of a police van.

He said after an unnecessarily bumpy ride to the police station, he asked to make a phone call, but the police did not allow this.

"Earlier that day I had shown symptoms of a heart attack and had been to a doctor. I told the officers that I needed my medication, but they wouldn't allow me to get that either," Galant said.

The officer who had arrested him, whose name is known to News24, allegedly told him that "as long as he wears this blue uniform, [I] will never practice law again".

Galant later lodged the intimidation and assault complaints against this officer.

A second officer had agreed with the arresting officer, Galant said, encouraging him to "send out a message to all other lawyers that we are not scared of them".

He was never read his rights or told what he was being charged for, the attorney said.

Galant said he and his client were initially placed in a separate cell "away from the hardened criminals" as legally required.

Gang protection

The officer who had allegedly threatened him, however, said they would not get any special treatment and ordered that they instead be put in the cell along with numbers gang members, he claimed.

"There was a [gang] general inside who had recognised me from court. He told everyone he knew me and that I was 'protected'. I luckily didn't have any problems inside because of this," he said.

Galant claimed when he was taken to be fingerprinted, his hands were twisted by the officer who was aware of his medical condition.

He further alleged that after being returned to the cell, the officers took photos of him behind bars, and stood around "as if they wanted to see me get beaten".

He was released the following day and warned to appear in court on Thursday.

It was only then that he was informed of the charge against him, Galant said.

'Who is using my phone?'

His cellphone had not been returned to him, but had been in use since being confiscated from him, he claimed.

His WhatsApp shows it was last used late on Friday night, hours after his arrest.

Galant said when he phoned his number on Sunday night, the call was rejected.

"The police claim my phone is evidence, which means it should have been sealed in an evidence bag after being confiscated. Who is then still using my phone?" he asked.

Galant laid his complaint with IPID on Saturday, and said he was still considering opening a civil case.

IPID spokesperson Robbie Raburabu was not immediately available for comment.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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