Cops pepper-spray manager in wanton attack

2011-06-17 00:00

POLICE attacked a senior manager at Sanlam with pepper spray yesterday in an unprovoked incident as he was walking in the CBD.

Nathi Mjwara (33) stepped out of his office at 1.45 pm, where he had spent the day working, and stopped in Club Lane to retrieve his cellphone from the pocket of his jeans.

Mjwara said, “As I was getting my phone out of my pocket, a Quantam police van drove up alongside me and one of the two Indian policemen in the front, said, ‘What are you doing? Are you f***ing the wall?’”

The shocked Mjwara said he was not, and raised his hands above his head so the police could see that he was not armed.

He felt a burning sensation in his eyes as one of the officers sitting in the back of the car discharged pepper spray into his eyes, and the van immediately drove off.

Mjwara said he could not see the person in the back as the minibus had tinted windows, but said that he will be able to recognise the officers sitting in front on the vehicle.

“I collapsed on the pavement in pain. My eyes were burning and swollen. They did not say I had broken the law. I was not arrested or charged with anything,” said Mjwara, who is the sales manager at Sanlam.

Sanlam branch manager Troy Scott said that when Mjwara returned to the office he immediately contacted the Loop Street police station to get an officer to take a statement.

“He is a senior manager at Sanlam and for something like this to happen to him, is very embarrassing,” said Scott.

Scott said the police members at Loop Street were less than helpful.

“They said they had no vans to send, but I could see there were four vans at the police station. They said someone would have to come from Hilton.”

When he complained one of the police members said to him, “Tell your mother.”

“At the police station they think this is funny,” he added.

Mjwara said he was on the receiving end of this type of police violence last year while sitting in his parked car at Camps Drift.

“Police approached me and asked what I was doing there. I replied by asking whether what I was doing wrong, and they sprayed me in the face with pepper spray too,” he said.

Mjwara said he is considering laying a complaint with the Independent Complaints Directorate.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Joey Jeevan expressed concern at the allegations.

“In the SA Police Force we don’t expect police to behave like this. This will be treated in a serious light and be investigated thoroughly.

“If any member is found guilty we will take criminal and departmental action,” she said.


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