Cop beat man at station

2008-07-23 00:00

INSTEAD of being assisted while trying to lay a charge against two Dog Unit officers, a Pietermaritzburg resident was allegedly severely assaulted by the same officers in front of their supervisor in the Pietermaritzburg Central police station on Tuesday night.

Thokozani Mbanjwa said more than 10 other officers watched while he was punched and kicked.

His lawyer accompanied him back to the station to open an assault case against the officers.

“As they were beating me up, one of them kept telling me, ‘This is a lesson that you must never point your finger at a police officer,’” said Mbanjwa, who works for the Labour Department.

Mbanjwa, who saw the two officers breaking a window at Laduma Tavern in Church Street at about 10 pm on Tuesday, accompanied his friend, Vusi Mkhize, to open a case of damage to property at the station. Mkhize is a co-owner of the tavern.

The trouble started when tavern patrons, including Mbanjwa, were watching the soccer match between Orlando Pirates and Manchester United. He was sitting with the other owner, Thulani Masuku.

Masuku said the two police officers came in to ask if the tavern allows customers to pay for drinks with their bank cards. Outside, another officer was holding a man who was suspected of having stolen a bank card.

“After we told them that we only accept cash, the two officers went out. Suddenly we saw one officer throw the suspect against our window, which cracked,” said Masuku.

The officers promised Masuku they would arrange to pay for the damaged window. “But later they told me to go and open a case against them if I wanted to claim from them,” said Masuku.

Mkhize took Mbanjwa with him to the police station. There they were referred to the senior officer in charge of the night duty officers.

Mbanjwa said that after hearing their story, the senior officer summoned the two Dog Unit officers back to the station. He said they denied being involved in breaking the window.

“As I was insisting that it was them who broke the window, one of them just hit me with an open hand across the face. The second one joined in and they hit me until I fell on the floor,” said Mbanjwa.

Mbanjwa said the assault lasted for about five minutes.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that Mbanjwa has opened a case against the officers, which he said is under investigation.

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