Cop takes cops hostage

2010-09-03 00:00

GOVERNMENT employees and members of the public rushed out of a government building while others locked themselves in offices when an enraged senior Popcru leader allegedly waved an R5 rifle threateningly at his police colleagues in Pietermaritzburg yesterday morning.

The drama unfolded when a heavily armed shop steward, who is a warrant officer, stormed an SA Police Force disciplinary office in the Davis Alexander building at about 9 am. He held the assault rifle and his service pistol was on his waist. Hostage negotiators were called in when he allegedly blocked people from leaving or entering offices on the sixth floor. A large number of heavily armed officers took up positions around the 14-floor building.

Senior officers who witnessed the drama said the warrant officer, who was representing a colleague in a disciplinary matter, became upset when he discovered that the hearing for a Popcru member stationed in New Hanover had been scheduled for yesterday without his being informed.

He was also angry that the management have reportedly failed to resolve disputes between police officers and station commissioners at police stations around the province.

The warrant officer, who cannot be named at this stage, allegedly stormed into the police’s disciplinary section, a gun-free area.

His office is in the same building, and he represents Popcru members in disciplinary matters.

“He was very angry and raised his voice. We asked him to hand over the weapons for safekeeping, but he refused. He wanted the proceedings to start with him carrying those guns,” said an officer on condition of anonymity.

The disciplinary hearing chairperson allegedly received death threats from the officer. This led to senior officers pleading with him to leave the area.

“He blocked the doorway and said no one is leaving and that he would make the office come to a standstill. I was also intimidated,” said the officer.

He said the warrant officer did not point the weapons at anyone, but everyone was afraid that he was ready to shoot.

Another officer described the man as “very arrogant and aggressive”.

“He shouted at us and threatened that there would be bloodshed in the office and someone was going to die. He seemed ready for war,” said the officer.

The man was disarmed after 30 minutes of negotiations.

Employees of the Education Department said they were told to vacate the building.

“Everyone assembled in Church Street. There were lots of police and paramedics. All entrances were closed,” said an Education Department employee.


Popcru provincial secretary Kwenza Nxele said his office received a police report about the incident and will meet the warrant officer today.

“Our members are very frustrated by the police management. Sometimes our members get fired because they are deprived of being represented in disciplinary hearings.

“Also this disciplinary committee needs to be dissolved,” said Nxele.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the warrant officer later went to Plessislaer police station to hand over the firearms.

“A criminal case of intimidation has been opened. He cannot just be arrested because he did not assault anyone,” said Naicker.

WHEN contacted yesterday afternoon, the warrant officer involved in the drama said he was annoyed when attempts were made to prevent him from attending the hearing.

“This was also about problems in the provincial police stations which the management is refusing to solve.

“I was angry when they ignored the member’s request for a Popcru representive in his disciplinary hearing.

“The problem started when they refused to allow me to enter the hearing room with my firearms, whereas there is nothing preventing us from taking firearms with us …

“What is it that they were scared of, which made them prevent me from having my service firearms? I was ready to shoot if anyone tried to pull the trigger on me … they must be prepared before they take me on … It is either I kill or I die. If they fire me they must be prepared to give me all my money for the service I rendered to the police force.”

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