Cops ‘want to hide acts’

2015-07-10 08:40
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(Manenberg Saps, Facebook)

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A CLAIM by the KZN SAPS that the public are not allowed to film police carrying out operations because the police “have their own camera ­operators” has been slammed as ­“absolute nonsense”.

Police made the comment when questioned on why the ­Pinetown-based National Intervention Unit confiscated and damaged several phones of the public, a number of whom they also allegedly assaulted, filming the unit raid a Stanger carwash in Glenhills Drive on the suspicion of the owner selling drugs.

No drugs were found. Instead they arrested a 22-year-old bystander for trying to film the raid — with the ­matter being thrown out of the ­KwaDukuza court just 24 hours later.

The majority of those assaulted ­belonged to one family, including a stroke victim and a 13-year-old boy who claims to have been punched in the face and ribs when an officer dived on him to grab his mobile phone.

The family and apparent suspect have now all opened cases against the officers on charges ranging from ­assault to theft and have confirmed they will lodge a civil claim.

But police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said the police were conducting a raid searching for drugs “after the community had laid complaints”.

“Police conducted a search and while they were performing their duties, the house occupants were allegedly swearing at and filming the police, preventing them from executing their duties.

“Filming of police by the public while executing their duties is not ­allowed since SAPS have their own camera operators who are employed to do that. No drugs were found in the premises and police will keep an eye to continue with the investigation.”

DA spokesperson on police Dianne Kohler-Barnard said the claim is a “total fabrication”, stating that the militarised police are acting like “defence personnel” and hide their “illegal acts”.

“This is an absolute fabrication. It was video footage that allowed us to know about Mido Macia [who died ­after being dragged behind a police van for 400 m in February 2014 in ­Daveyton] and Andries Tatane [who died after a police assault in Ficksburg in 2011]. The police do not know their own laws,” said Kohler-Barnard.

Howard Dembovsky of the Justice Project called the police action “totally incorrect”, saying police can have no expectation of privacy in a public space.

“We can’t allow the police to do what they like. The police still exist in the apartheid mentality. Their actions are often unlawful and while we continue to use the Criminal Procedures Act of 1977 our police will continue to act like the Gestapo [Nazi Germany secret ­police].”

The IFP’s Blessed Gwala said the public had a right to film the police.

“The investigation into the Marikana massacre might never have ­happened if it wasn’t for the television visuals that captured the shootings. The police can deny doing something at a crime scene but if there is video evidence this becomes a lot harder.”

The ANC’s Keith Khoza said there was no law prohibiting the public recording the police but he said the public should neither interfere with an investigation or operation. He said this matter would need to be looked at individually to see what the circumstances were.

The alleged prime suspect, Siyanda Mkhize, who was found with no drugs in his possession, believes the raid may be linked to currently pending civil ­action he and two other men are ­bringing against the police for ­wrongful arrest several years prior.

See more on page 2

In a study into Body Worn Video (BWV), researchers from the ­University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology (IoC) found that the ­use-of-force and complaints data ­reduced when officers wore BWV.

According to reports in the United Kingdom, BWV has led to increased public reassurance of the police while it has reduced the fear of crime in ­local communities. It has also led to increase in early guilty pleas, resolved complaints about the police more quickly and it has reduced assaults on officers.

A trial was run in 10 areas and as of June the London Metropolitan ­Police announced it would roll out the technology to all its officers.

In the USA, a 2014 survey of police departments serving the 100 most populous U.S. cities found that 41 ­cities use body cams on some of their officers, 25 have plans to implement body cams and 30 cities do not use or plan to use cams at this time.

“I spent nearly three years in Westville Prison for an armed robbery in Stanger in 2008 which I didn’t commit. Last year the sentence was overturned on appeal and we are now seeking R3 million from the state. They are trying to discredit me. I am always being harassed by the Stanger police. They even stuck a gun to my head,” he said.

Mkhize owns a carwash on a property in Glenhills Drive, adjacent to an entertainment hall run by Roney Gurusamy. Both premises are on the property of David Gurusamy, Roney’s brother.

Roney said his 13-year old son, Ronald, was “punched in the face and rib” by an officer when he saw him filming the arrest.

“The cop jumped on him. He lost a tooth. We needed to take him to hospital. He was crying. We have laid charges,” he said.

David said the police at no point identified themselves.

“They even pushed my disabled sister Gowree Latchmadu, who uses a cane to walk, to the ground, for trying to film the incident. They then arrested my 22-year-old nephew, Prakesh Latchmadu, for also filming their raid. He got out on bail that afternoon and the case was turfed out of court the following day.”

He said when he threatened to report the officers clad in Kevlar and wielding rifles, they “laughed”.

“To quote who appeared to be their leader he said, ‘You can tell the colonel, you can tell the f**kin’ lieutenant, you can even tell f**kin’ [President Jacob] Zuma. We don’t give a f**k’,” said David.

David said the officers told him that the KwaDukuza police station was “corrupt and they were doing that station’s job for them”.

Read more on:    kwazulu-natal  |  saps

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