Cop assaults motorist

2010-01-19 00:00

A CATO Ridge woman became a victim of a blue light bully for the second time in two years yesterday. This time she was assaulted inside the Camperdown police station by a member of the traffic police Special Operations Task Team — and in front of police officers.

She was left with scratches on her neck and a bruised arm.

The Special Operations Task Team falls under the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI).

Jude Ward was driving on the N3 from Pietermaritzburg when a white unmarked Isuzu double cab with tinted windows came up behind her and flashed its lights, just before the Umlaas Road off-ramp.

Ward said she thought the driver wanted to overtake, but she couldn’t move to the slow lane as there was a tanker truck to her left.

When she was clear of the tanker, she moved over to the slow lane, giving way to the motorist to pass.

“Instead the man slowed down, opened the window and pointed his finger at me, screaming and shouting at me.

“He indicated that I pull off the road, but as I could tell that he was angry, and because of my past experience with the blue light officers, I decided to get back on the fast lane and drove to the Camperdown police station,” Ward said.

In the parking area of the station, Ward said, the uniformed officer (whose name is known to The Witness) started shouting at her again.

She ran into the charge office with the man following her and inside he held her by the arm and neck.

“He twisted my arm and threw me on the floor.

“I’ve got bruises from a man of law and order for reasons known to him alone. The officers on duty did nothing to stop him from assaulting me. I managed to phone my husband P.J. who arrived here, and the man became rude to him too,” Ward said.

P.J., who was accompanied by farmers from Cato Ridge, confirmed that the officer was rude. When he asked what was happening, the officer allegedly told him to shut up and sit down or he would be thrown into the police cells.

“I can’t figure it out what triggered his behaviour, because I don’t see my wife being a threat to such a huge man with big arms. What’s more troubling is that this took place inside a police station, with officers on duty doing absolutely nothing to help my wife from her attacker,” P.J. said.

A senior officer of the task team, accompanied by a colleague, was sent to the station after the matter was reported to it.

A farmer who wished not to be named asked: “How can he assault someone at the police station and the police do nothing about it? This is ridiculous and it seems like these senior offi­cers don’t have control over their juniors on the streets,” said the farmer.

In September 2008, Ward was attacked on the N3 near Camperdown by the occupants of a VW Polo with blue lights.

She was allegedly pushed out of the fast lane of the N3 southbound, and the two occupants forced her to pull over.

It has been confirmed that the vehicle belongs to the KZN Transport Department.

Provincial police spokesman Superintendent Vincent Mdunge said law enforcers are supposed to protect citizens and that they shouldn’t be seen to be on the wrong side of the law.

“When a law enforcement officer assaults a citizen, that officer is acting way out of his mandate.

“If the victim has pressed charges against him, the case will be investigated.If the investigations reveal that there are police officers who did nothing to stop the assault, the department will charge them for neglect of duty,” said Mdunge.

Transport Department spokesman Bheki Mncube referred the query to the head of the RTI, John Schnell, whose phone was off.

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