Cops manhandle paramedic

2013-01-23 20:56

Cape Town - A paramedic has been arrested at the scene of an accident in Franschoek, for obstructing police in the performance of their duty.

Garth van Zyl had been asked by the fire chief at the scene on Tuesday to handle scene safety, after the police had not responded to his request for assistance.

After the Medicare EMR paramedic started doing scene safety to protect the fire crews from vehicles travelling down the road, police arrested him.

The paramedic, who has a (broken) leg in a brace, was forcibly removed from the scene and dragged some distance and locked up in a police van.

The fire chief at that point again asked the police to do traffic control as the crews working on site were in danger of being hit by other motorists.

The medic can be heard on a video made at the scene asking the police to allow him to get into the van himself. They replied by threatening to use maximum force.

Van Zyl was charged with obstructing the police in the performance of their duty.

He claims police tried to deny bail but a lawyer arranged for him to be released the same evening.

He is to appear in court in Paarl on Thursday.

Police could not immediately comment on the incident.

  • gerrit.vanbreda1 - 2013-01-23 21:13

    Only in SA.

      angelanair3 - 2013-01-23 21:33

      They getting as bad as the thugs they supposed to protect us from! They drink on duty, they loot with the looters now they attack the paramedics! Where is that Minister of Police - has he disappeared - maybe he is hiding out in Nkandla - come back Nathi - our country needs you please...

      liveby.thesword.1 - 2013-01-23 21:39


      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 21:42

      I have seen the video of the incident and the first thing that came to my mind is "there's TWO sides to every story" - they have only shown the video of the police arresting the so-called "paramedic" who was not even in his uniform. How are the police to know he is a genuine paramedic when he is not in uniform. Judging from his comments when the police threatened to pepper spray him for failing to get into the van - he dared them to do it - which makes me wonder what else actually went on before the video started. The fire chief has NO jurisdiction over the police - he cannot dictate to them what to do. The fire chief had time to walk over to the police - why didnt HE control the traffic? If I was a policeman and someone (a paramedic without a uniform in this case) asked me in a rude and condescending way why I wasn't doing something (the police may have had good reason for their actions) I too would be upset. By the way there hardly seemed to be any "dangerous" traffic from the video footage. Seems to me the traffic was already slowing down and under control. . May the truth prevail and both sides be exposed. Im sure most of the commentators here will play the race card and blinded support someone based on skin color but remember again : there's two sides to every story.

      Jehane - 2013-01-23 21:54

      Firstly , he is clearly wearing a paramedic MVA Vest as most medics do on scene and you also hear him ask his partner to go lock the ambulance so logically he would be a medic, secondly the police, if in doubt, could have asked him for his HPCSA ID Card (Which all paramedics carry all the time as required by law), thirdly the fire chief should never have to ask SAPS to manage the safety of a scene as SAPS are ultimately in charge of the scene AND THEY KNOW THAT, this incident has nothing to do with who is in charge and who isn't in charge, etc as those protocols are well known to emergency workersit has to do with the role players doing their jobs and the police were not doing there's hence there was an altercation and hence the fire chief requested their assistance numerous times. Had these police officials arrived on scene and started their job of ensuring and maintaining the safety of the medical personnel, this altercation would never have happened. They do not have a choice as to whether or not they are going to be directing traffic or not and can not just rock up at a scene and stand around. (something I have seen personally on MANY scenes) they are there to cordon it off, mark the scene and warn the traffic approaching as well as control pedestrian access before they begin other tasks like detail taking etc. Paramedics are hard done by police officials who fail to do this and there are numerous such cases where a lack of scene safety has ended with medics being killed.

      randall.j.coetzee - 2013-01-23 22:03

      @jan... Don't comment on things you don't understand. The fire chief can say when and if the police can enter the perimeter and they (SAPS) has to oblige to every request he/she gives them. Even if the police was there before him or her. They(SAPS) are suppose to regulate traffic if the traffic department can't deploy resources. And please... A fire chief can not regulate traffic, cause guess what... He is in charge of everybody present at the scene... And you don't even know the different kind of uniforms paramedics wear? Didn't see the vest hey?... More than enough reason for you to shut it.

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:07

      I urge everyone to watch the video before commenting or thumbs downing. These policemen looked very helpful and sincere to me. If they were so arrogant and unhelpful as the writer and "paramedic" is making it seem why did they tell the fire chief in a very sincere and helpful way "Chief we are coming - this guy is disturbing us"? In the end they even OBEYED the "chief" and one officer said he will drive the van whilst the other walked back to help the chief. Its easy to blame the cops when we dont know what happened BEFORE the video started. Again look at the video - there NO serious traffic situation as the writer and the "paramedic" without uniform are portraying that warranted the police to do anything about it on an urgent basis.

      delish7564 - 2013-01-23 22:08

      @jan. Franschhoek Fire and Paramedics work hand in hand and in some cases are local people, so they know each other anyway. In my experience, we know of three members of the one family all paramedics, they are often controlling trafic etc before the Police arrive, that's part of what they do. Whether the Police like it or not is a different matter, but if they aren't on the scene then someone has to to do something to prevent the situation getting worse. I haven't watched the video but that is my former area, so I have experienced the partnership at work and it does work well.

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:13

      delish7564 - the cops did not seem arrogant to me. We need to see what happened before the video to really judge what went on. From the video it does NOT appear these cops were arrogant. They seemed to co-operate with the fire chief when he approached them and in NO WAY were they rude or arrogant to the fire chief.

      Rick.Gonzo.56 - 2013-01-23 22:22

      They just arrested him randomly? Not the full story. Again, sensationalist news for clicks and idiots.

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:23

      randall.j.coetzee - Looks like he is wearing a fishing vest to me - paramedics as the general public know them wear bright colored red/orange/yellow clothing. He was driving an ambulance for goodness sake why wasn't he in FULL uniform?

      brett.scheepers - 2013-01-23 22:28

      kevin.gleeson.54 - 2013-01-23 23:12

      @Jan Cops-looted-Sasolburg-shops-claims-20130123

      Jane - 2013-01-24 08:57

      Seems like any idiot can join the SAPS these days! not a shred of common sense between all of them

  • randall.j.coetzee - 2013-01-23 21:21

    Arrogant police officers. We have the same problem when we're at a fire scene. They always want to show the public they're the alphas... The good ones excluded

      Traderzn - 2013-01-23 21:28

      And they wonder why people have f all respect for them

      tom.devos.984 - 2013-01-24 08:13

      yes that is the reason I sit with a back and neck operation. They didn't do their job on the scene and allow "normal" traffic flow through the scene untill someone who was drunk nailed me into the same ambulance that my treated patients were.

  • bob.small.7547 - 2013-01-23 21:27

    Police are out of control idiots! These uncalled for police brutality incidents are escalating at an alarming rate!

  • jack.trend.3 - 2013-01-23 21:28

    wow, can see the cops are totally acting in anger. I thought the fire chief had authority over the cops at these scenes?

  • paulgerber969 - 2013-01-23 21:28


      ianon.ym - 2013-01-23 21:38

      Never saw Gestapo being that FAT - LOL

  • rocketman999 - 2013-01-23 21:28

    Just another example of what too much KFC can do to the brain. They are simply following the example set by their leaders = incompetence.

  • jerome.appollis.1 - 2013-01-23 21:30

    The dom in freedom

  • pierre.smith.180 - 2013-01-23 21:33

    Common courtesy in this country is down the drain. Why couldn't they first of just do their job.. and secondly just go there and say to Garth thank you sir we will take over and go on with it. Now they have to arrest him first and still not do their job. Think this was the situation. "hey buddy lets arrest that guy and take him to jail its almost time to go home"

  • willie.botha.9480 - 2013-01-23 21:37

    I sure hope somebody is going to do something about this. It is outrageous. They are really acting like idiots. Once again focusing energy on the wrong actions. That is off course when the are doing anything at all.

  • james.f.blyth - 2013-01-23 21:38

    The fire chiefs orders supersede those of the police. But no. Given a gun a uniform and these muppets think they own the country.

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:27

      Watch the video then comment.

      iwance.wasdere - 2013-01-23 23:52

      @jan.vanrensburg.988 - I did Jan, looks like a couple of very aggressive cops dragging a paramedic to a van and threatening him with force even when he is pleading with them to be careful of his broken leg. What a bunch of incompetent fat abusers of power in a uniform. I hope they get thrown out of the force as a disgrace to SAPS. Probably won't happen though, as the cops are so corrupt that they will make sure the docket disappears and the whole thing is thrown out of court before it gets too far. Just another day in SA!!

  • dawn.kilian - 2013-01-23 21:38

    Am getting sick of the cops here! U can't even trust them anymore !!! There are only a few that u can trust ! Only in SA !!!

  • John - 2013-01-23 21:39

    Yet another example of the stupidity and incompetence of the useless fat bully boy thick thug force in action! Make them video record all their actions.

  • colleen.erasmus.7 - 2013-01-23 21:40

    Is brutality really necessary to make a point, show some decency, if u have any. The man was only doing what was asked of him, to prevent further problems, should they occur. Had SAPS turned up on time all the unecessary brutality could have been avoided. Show some decorum when wearing a uniform! Secondly tje paramedic had a broken leg, SAPS! Your reasons for locking him in the back of the van has no merit if he was doing what was asked of him!

      John - 2013-01-23 21:58

      Cops have no sense of decency, only an ill conceived arrogant sense of bully boy authority! Remember, they are our SERVANTS, not our MASTERS as they perceive themselves to be.

      khethu.ndlovu.3 - 2013-01-23 22:20

      He might have called them something his father thought him to call blacks.

  • werner.niksch - 2013-01-23 21:44

    f#$k the police!bunch of thugs!

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:28

      The video showed NO evidence of them being thugs - unless we watched a different video? Or maybe you DIDNT watch the video?

      iwance.wasdere - 2013-01-23 23:53

      @jan.vanrensburg.988 - you must be watching another video to the rest of us Jan.

  • leon.kisten - 2013-01-23 21:49

    I lost a paramedic friend due to cops not doin their duty to calm traffic at an accident scene. Hope they get what they deserve.

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:28

      Since when is it SAPS duty to "calm" traffic?

      iwance.wasdere - 2013-01-23 23:54

      @jan.vanrensburg.988 - Whose job is it then Jan?

      madmountainza - 2013-01-24 00:10

      Since they were on the scene and it's the right thing to do. Too many public officials in this country turn a blind eye, because "it's not my problem". Seriously, if they had hopped in their van and pulled off and someone had been hit, how would that have looked.

      vanzyld - 2013-01-25 08:41

      In the absence of traffic police, the police is tasked with maintaining public order and security! Under the "security" part they are responsible to secure the scene of the accident, i.e. those present such as paramedics and injured, as well as evidence on scene! Clearly these skilled civil officers understand that!

  • adrian.hill.750 - 2013-01-23 21:59

    This country is an absolute joke.

      reg.nagel - 2013-01-23 22:43

      What, a, sh*t hole place...

  • chirnsidep - 2013-01-23 22:05

    Apartheid is not over, it's just experienced a power shift

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:30

      Watch the video instead of getting emotional over something a journalist is clearly preying on your emotions to get you to react like this.

      tersia.louw.12 - 2013-01-23 23:05

      Actually, Jan, it's your emotions that seem to be all over the place. I've watched the footage, and the cops seem heavy-handed; they're not listening to ANYTHING ANYONE has to say. It's their job to think as well as do, no?

      monika.vermeulen - 2013-01-26 10:32

      It is an ofence only if it is an ongoing operation. This however was no such thing and it is completely lawfull to take pictures and film them if they do not object to it taking place. If they were in the right the footage will only strenghten their case in court.

  • Notrax123 - 2013-01-23 22:06

    They arrest this guy, but allow a video to be made of themselves... send them back to police training college, it is an offence to take photo's or make a video of police officers doing their duty. I am not saying they were doing their "duty" in this case.

      khethu.ndlovu.3 - 2013-01-23 22:10

      What r u realy saying here?

      Jehane - 2013-01-23 22:10

      I know its illegal to film or take photos of police buildings or resources, but didn't know you not allowed to film them in public doing their work...

      iwance.wasdere - 2013-01-24 00:10

      Actually everybody has the right to photograph or film any police activity happening in a public place, it's just the police themselves that seem to be unaware of this fact from time to time. I know because I am a photographer btw.

      philip.venter1 - 2013-01-24 07:54

      Public workers are allowed to be filmed in public without consent and police officers are public workers. If a police officer does not allow you to film him/her while on the job then they are breaking the law. Learn your rights people.

      vanzyld - 2013-01-25 08:45

      You are in more than your legal right to film them. There is a difference between gathering intelligence for terrorist or military operations: not to exercise your right as a citizen to monitor the behaviour of civil representatives, of which these shameful incompetents unfortunately form part!

  • jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:18

    delish7564 - the cops did not appear to be rude or arrogant in the video. They respected and obeyed the fire chief and one of them went with him - this can be seen in the video at the end. We need to know what this guy told the cops before the video started - even one of the paramedics friends below commented and said "Eish Garth, can't stay out of trouble eh?" - Makes me wonder about his character especially his dare to the cops to go ahead and pepper spray him. In the video there hardly any traffic that can be seen. Big ooh ah about traffic to detract from what may have actually went down.

      EricksonTL - 2013-01-23 22:24

      Sarcasm dearie. The fact is, I do know Garth from way back. I also know that he goes into the squatter camps around Franschoek unpaid to help the locals. He's a good guy, and calling him racist is like suggesting that Zuma joins Mensa. These cops, like so many others, are bullies who can't do their jobs, pure and simple.

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:31

      Who called him a racist? Maybe just a troublemaker?

      EricksonTL - 2013-01-23 22:33

      Nope. Just a guy trying to save lives. A good guy. If South Africa had more like him, it'd be a MUCH better place.

      madmountainza - 2013-01-24 01:39

      Jan, I've watched the video, one of those cops was clearly out of his depth and instead of keeping his cool and controlling the situation, he was abusing his power and was narrow-minded, angry, abusive and unresponsive. Not the cop with the safety vest, but the other one. Did you notice when they were walking how the paramedic partially lost his footing and the angry cop shouted and aggressively pushed him in one direction. Then when they were putting him in the van, the safety-vest cop backed off a bit to allow the guy to get in, the angry cop started yelling and when the paramedic was trying to explain to him, he threatens to use the necessary force. Then when the fire chief asks them for help, the angry cop shouts at him and says that they must first take care of this guy, because he's disturbing them. The guy's already locked in the van, so what more do they need to do. This type of narrow-minded violent power-hungry behaviour doesn't help the SAPS image in any way. If the cops aren't skilled enough to properly respond to the situation without losing their cool, then they need to be trained properly. If that's how this cop loses it at a minor incident, how long before he does something more serious in anger and without just cause. Also, it's not about how much traffic can be seen at that time, it's about how much traffic you can't see that could be coming around the corner (like another truck full of sheep).

      tom.devos.984 - 2013-01-24 08:22

      I sit with a back and neck operation after a van charged through an incident which made me lie inside the same ambulance than my patients I cared for. Reason for this SAPS didn't do their duty on the scene. That is not even traffic control,which you say it is not an SAPS task. If that is not their task on a scene, what are they doing there then? If I can remember one of the statements in their duty is to protect......

      monika.vermeulen - 2013-01-26 10:28

      Just for the record both cops actutualy got in the van and left the scene and did not follow the fire chiefs request at all. I know. I filmed it. Go to the medicare emr website and get the full story before you make such conclusuons.

  • ian.robertreid - 2013-01-23 22:21

    Good cops bad cops?? Iv'e been on the wrong side of bad cops ~bribe FU??

  • peasant.mcpoor - 2013-01-23 22:22

    Ah good old pigs. I remember when I was punched by one for demanding my rights, with 3 ready to pepper spray me.small men, big guns.

  • lizelle.esterhuysen.7 - 2013-01-23 22:23

    Quite sickening and ironic seeing the reason Garths leg is in a brace is because he was hit by a vehicle while trying to assist at an accident scene

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:33

      I hope he wasnt wearing that clothing when he was knocked - he can hardly be visible in what looks to be a dark colored fishing jacket in the video.

      Jehane - 2013-01-23 22:43

      Regardless of what he was wearing, if a paramedic is injured by a passing vehicle, the superseding authorities on that scene were not doing their job. I do agree with you though Jan on certain points, for onein that more clarity is needed on the matter and not just based on the video. From other reports it would seem the fire chief had asked those same police officials numerous times prior to the video to do their job i.e. control the scene. Traffic is only but one aspect of this role. So we need more facts before concluding the story. I think the sad thing in this regard is that two "allies", there to help people, can not exhibit the necessary professionalism and tact on a scene. this is such an easy situation to avoid.

      iwance.wasdere - 2013-01-23 23:56

      @jan.vanrensburg.988 - once again, you must be watching a different video because in the one I watched Garth was clearly wearing a luminous green safety vest. You really do seem to be taking this very personally Jan. Are you in the SAPS by any chance?

  • thea.slater - 2013-01-23 22:28

    This is just another example of why ppl don't trust cops. They act like they are the higher hand. Idiots with a badge!!!!

  • terrylee.heuer - 2013-01-23 22:36

    Unbelievable!!!!! There's an accident and the cops feel it more fitting to cause problems with a paramedic seriously!!!! The arrogance astounds me!!!

      jan.vanrensburg.988 - 2013-01-23 22:39

      Watch the video - dont believe everything you was a quite road with no traffic. Paramedic and friends trying hard to play the victim. I have HUGE respect for paramedics by the way.

      terrylee.heuer - 2013-01-23 22:50

      I couldn't access the video on my phone so I suppose I shouldn't judge thanks Jan

  • Sipho Makhekhe - 2013-01-23 22:36

    if you want to see apartheid put a darkie in control or in power

  • david.luis.9822924 - 2013-01-23 22:44

    Not surprising, I stopped last year to assist a cyclist that was knocked down, called the cops, called an ambulance. next thing a young and very abusive cop is threatening to arrest me because I'm "interfering with him in doing his duty". good thing his station commander is not AA and took the matter seriously when I reported it . but we all know that the majority of the SAPS are rotten from the top down.

  • Jehane - 2013-01-23 22:49

    People should really keep race out of this issue...has absolutely no influence on this matter what so ever....

      Jehane - 2013-01-23 23:15

      Bringing race into it, would complicate the issue more (and its complex and disgusting enuf). Lets set race aside and look at the actions in themselves of the role-players and then make a judgement.

  • marthin.dejongh1 - 2013-01-23 22:51

    Van Zyl was charged with obstructing the police in the performance of their duty.... This was an accident seen,not a crime seen!! It is the duty of traffic officers!! Or anyone can control the traffic if the traffic department has not yet arrived on the seen. How can they arrest him? Would they have arrested the fire chief if he was controlling the traffic? Bloody bafoons!!

  • kevin.gleeson.54 - 2013-01-23 22:52

    Uneducated Trash!!!

  • lizelle.esterhuysen.7 - 2013-01-23 22:56

    This is the franschhoek pass which consists of many bends most of which are blind turns as you can only see whats ahead once out of the turn. Notice the double line markings in the road which means you cant see on coming traffic. It is a national road, the R45

      tersia.louw.12 - 2013-01-23 23:09

      I've driven that pass; maybe you're used to it, but I found it scary.

  • charliebates - 2013-01-23 23:15

    Please review pictures of the scene then decide if the police was wrong...

      madmountainza - 2013-01-24 01:20

      Hi Charlie, I'm assuming you must've been on the scene and understood the context of the pictures, but for me they don't show much except for the paramedic standing on the road near the Ambulance and ER24 vehicle (presumably he was there to slow vehicles down). He wasn't near the 2 cops, from what I can tell they were standing quite a bit off the road under an umbrella nearer to the front of the overturned truck. I'm not sure why he was arrested, but from what I can see he wasn't inside the restricted area (cordoned off by tape), he wasn't near or interfering with the other rescue personnel and there were plenty of other people loitering about on and off the road. So what went wrong? Maybe you can explain the context.

      molJOEmabina - 2013-01-24 05:36

      I didn't get your picture story. Is there something I am missing?

  • gerard.james1 - 2013-01-24 00:51

    This is disgusting

  • karin.lore.5 - 2013-01-24 07:08

    Ahem..... what police???? We don't have a police force anymore (no offense to the last and only 10 genuine policemen/women in South Africa).

  • quinton.devries - 2013-01-24 07:11

    Total incompetence and an abuse of authority. The SAPS will be sued for wrongful arrest as they were asked to do their job (direct traffic) and chose to take it personal.

  • cathy.vanvollenstee - 2013-01-24 07:23

    Well the courts have a video of what happened. Now they can lock up the police for endangering the lives of the rescue workers! Haha! Like that will ever happen! Sue the bastards and not the state. Make them pay and feel the bite in their pockets!

  • desmond.joshua2 - 2013-01-24 07:45

    why must he be held,because of zuma'z lazy boys?however there are some good cops and then you get the bribe squad,shame.

  • chandre.p.pretorius - 2013-01-24 08:35

    Funny thing is chances are that the cops are one day gonna lay on the ground screaming for a paramedics help, and that paramedic will look down on them bite on his teeth and still save their lives! Regardless who you are, what you did and what race you are we perform our duties. But being in the service these days is not doing something that's your passion, no its a medical aid pension and money so its just a job! Do you're job with pride or take a hike I say!!!

  • troye.basson - 2013-01-24 08:39

    my prayers go out to you Garth Van Zyl .All you try to do is good and then get caught up in the crap of SAPS, been there and experienced such a case. Was told to keep my nose out of their work. The result was another accident involving a motor cyclist and the motor cyclist still in a wheel chair after 15 years and no use of his lower body waist down. And after me being told that the then present SAPS on the scene of a previous not serious accident which was uncleared from the road for four hours to keep my nose out of their business. SAPS were standing at the scene of a bumper bashing and not removing the un-occupied vehicle which was left standing in the center of the road for four or so hours. Makes one gatvol and yet , you would problably save that SAPS members life on your next round when he is involved in a accident while on duty, but yet you would look past this incident with him. You do a great job Garth ....well done keep it up. I am proud of you because I would problably pepper spray the cop before helping him at the next scene and say oops, your pepper spray bottle just burst.... but yet you are able to not let this current issue at hand have you keep a grudge. One question though , what happened to the patient left behind while you were taken off to be loaded into the five star transporter ? It is like the child who has been shot in the spine and needs to operated, they refuse to save his life if no money is paid up front for the operation, the world is getting bad

  • karen.vanderberg.1 - 2013-01-24 08:41

    *Franschhoek- it is spelled with 2 h's

  • hugh.olphart - 2013-01-24 10:32

    Who do these fuknuts think they are? Accident scene safety is paramount, then attending to the injured. These cops must be fired. Zilla take some action here!

  • laetitia.mccabe - 2013-01-29 15:08

    This is absolutely shocking!! Firefighters sacrifice their lives to save others and are treated like criminals!! When will this end and who will stand-up and be heard??

  • Hemlock - 2013-05-10 09:32

    Police force.....just a bunch of thugs!

  • Julia Griffiths - 2015-02-19 15:27

    Give us those cops let us show them how it feels to be treated like that. We may just go a little further with them. Punks

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