Police boss Cele intervenes to free white teens from cells

2010-08-16 00:00

PRETORIA — Three 18-year-olds arrested at the weekend in connection with an assault were released on bail on Saturday afternoon within 30 minutes of the reported intervention of national police chief General Bheki Cele.

A 17-year-old who was arrested with the three was released into his parents’ care shortly after his arrest.

Three of the teens are matriculants at Waterkloof High School, while the other attends Garsfontein High, both in Pretoria.

The pupils were partying in Moreleta Park, Pretoria, on Friday night when they were arrested by officers from the Garsfontein police station, after having allegedly assaulted a young man.

Hennie de Beer, a friend of one of the boys’ fathers, told Beeld yesterday that the families and their lawyers spent all of Saturday struggling to get the boys released on bail.

He said that at the police station, a policeman sat in a cell with the boys, taking statements, for the whole day.

De Beer accused the policemann of racism and said he abused his power. He said he heard the policeman say in Sesotho: “I’ll show these white thugs who’s in charge of the police station.”

“I understand Sotho and can also speak it well, and I heard him say that,” De Beer said.

“One of the president’s [Jacob Zuma’s] brothers is a friend of mine, so I phoned him. He gave me General Bheki Cele’s number.

“I called the general immediately and he was very helpful. He said I should pass the phone to the relevant policeman.

“But the policeman said he didn’t believe Cele was on the phone, and refused to speak to him. He said if it really was the general, he should drive to the police station.”

De Beer once again spoke to Cele, who promised to send someone to the police station to sort out the problem.

De Beer said General Arno Lamoer, head of visible policing, arrived at the police station shortly thereafter.

“General Lamoer had a talk with the policeman in question and within half-an-hour from the time I phoned General Cele, the boys were released on R1 000 bail each.

“General Lamoer was very professional and apologised. He took up the case with the station commander.

“I told General Cele I would gladly go to war with him any day because of his attitude. I’m glad someone like him is in charge of the country’s policing. He really is there to serve the community,” said De Beer.

Police spokesperson Colonel Lindela Mashigo said yesterday the police received a complaint that the boys had allegedly been mistreated while in police custody.

“After the investigating officer … had spoken to the boys, he used his own discretion to release them on bail. There was absolutely no interference from any of the police’s top management,” said Mashigo.

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