Bantham’s foul-mouth rant

2013-11-25 00:00

CONTROVERSIAL Mountain Rise police station commissioner Brigadier Francis Bantham has been captured on a cellphone video in a foul-mouthed rant at people in the station’s holding cells.

While Bantham does not deny her actions in the widely circulated clip, she said she was facing a smear campaign and was targeted because she was committed to rooting out corruption.

Three weeks ago, charges of crimen injuria and intimidation were laid against her by Constable Anesh Chatu, an officer at the station.

He alleged that she had berated him at the top of her voice in the street outside his home. A video clip was also shot of that incident, and shows an angry Bantham shouting that she did not want officers like him bringing her station into disrepute.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker has confirmed that those charges have been withdrawn by Chatu.

The latest clip shows an irate Bantham, in police uniform, swearing and gesturing at people in the station’s holding cells, with a number of policemen looking on.

Bantham can be heard on the clip yelling: “You don’t even … your mother. I’m f***** talking to you. You have a f***** big mouth … you in the police department here. I’ll f*** you up, I’ll f*** you up, Shut your f***** mouth, I’m talking here man.”

In an interview with The Witness, she said the incident happened over a year ago.

“I know who is behind this and this is just a smear campaign to get me down because I’m straight forward and take no nonsense. This is from those people who are corrupt and who want to take me down because I know what they are up to,” said the brigadier.

She said she took a strong line against policemen who ran businesses on the side. “This is why I am unpopular. There are no policemen here who have permission to run their own businesses, yet I find many who are, but in their wives’ names. I’m a hands-on station commissioner. You will find me at the gate, waiting to see what time the officers clock in and out, shouting at them if they are late,” said Bantham.

Running the station since 2011, Bantham said she knew the Mountain Rise police station had been in the news for all the wrong reasons in the past, and she was there to transform its image.

Its controversial former station commissioner, Brigadier Hariram Badul, was charged with corruption and theft, among other things.

He was alleged to have fraudulently altered dockets and crime statistics to show that the station was performing better than it actually was.

Judgment in Badul’s case is expected in the Pietermaritzburg high court on December 13.

Bantham, a divorced mother of three, has been a police officer for the past 23 years.

Explaining her role at the station, Bantham said she had been sent to “sort out Mountain Rise police station through the grace of God”.

“I’m here for a reason and no one is going to get me out. Sending out these video clips of me is an attempt to put me in a corner and tie my hands. But the Lord has made me stronger and I will rise above,” she said.

Howard Dembovsky, national chairperson of the Justice Project South Africa, said every South African had the right to be treated with dignity, and that was enshrined in the Constitution.

“No matter what you have been accused of doing, you have the right to be treated with dignity. A law enforcement officer may not insult you, swear at you or otherwise treat you in anything less than a dignified fashion,” he said.

Colonel Jay Naicker said the provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, was aware of the video clip. “We know that this station has been fraught with all kinds of allegations and that it needs a strong arm. We trust Brigadier Bantham to provide that,” said Naicker.

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