Suspect in his suburb

2013-07-31 00:00

A WALK from his home in the leafy suburb of Oak Park saw a young student — the son of UKZN history professor Jabulani Sithole — become the object of suspicion and alleged racial profiling.

Nduduzo Sithole (20) was stopped by Townhill police yesterday morning. He was allegedly beaten and detained.

For his visibly shaken parents the incident was too much to bear.

Just two weeks earlier their 15-year-old daughter, a pupil at a prominent local school, was stopped by a resident in the same neighbourhood.

The resident wanted to know who she was and whether she was a domestic worker in the area.

Professor Sithole said he would never have imagined a situation where his own children, born in a free South Africa, would end up afraid of the police and live in fear in their own neighbourhood.

Nduduzo told The Witness he was on his way to register at the Unisa city campus, as he planned to study psychology.

While walking down Townbush Road he was stopped by three police officers who demanded to search him.

“I was late for registration as it is a closing day tomorrow [today], but when they stopped me I complied because I knew that it was their prerogative to stop and search anyone randomly.

“I told them I was a student and there was nothing in my bag but books. They searched it and found nothing and simply dropped it on the ground and went back to their vehicle.”

Sithole said he picked up his bag and cursed in frustration, which was heard by one of the policemen.

“The officer came towards me and asked whether I was cursing at them. The other police officers then got out of the car. I told them I was not swearing at them.”

At this point the police officer who confronted him allegedly lost his temper, kicked him and pushed him to the ground and then kicked him again, said Sithole.

“I asked them why they were beating me up because I had done nothing wrong and they said I was rude and they decided to arrest and take me to the station.

“There, they changed their story and said I had assaulted a police officer. Look at me, I am a skinny guy and quite a coward. I would never assault or even touch a police officer and the officer in question was a really big guy,” he said.

Common sense prevailed when his parents arrived and spoke to the station commander.

“This happened to me because I am a black male. They racially profiled me and decided that I was dangerous. I am shocked and angry, but I feel more hurt,” he said.

Police spokesperson Joey Jeevan said police were investigating.

“These are serious allegations of misconduct against members of the South African Police Services and these will have to be substantiated and thoroughly investigated … If the members responsible are found to be negligent, disciplinary action will be instituted against them”.

Meanwhile, Dedani Mkhize, the son of KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize, who was a victim of a similar incident earlier this year, said yesterday his tale had a happy ending.

“I met the restaurant owner and we talked, the matter is now over, in fact, we get along well now.”

Mkhize was confronted by police who had been called by the owner of a Hillcrest restaurant while he was getting into his vehicle earlier this year.

The owner believed that Mkhize, his wife and another friend, had been behaving suspiciously in his restaurant and alerted police.

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