Man held in cells without charge

ct Russ Smith Russell Smith

Simone Alicea

 

A CITY man has lodged a complaint of police misconduct against the Knysna police station after he says he was held in cells overnight without cause.

Russell Smith, 39, was in Knysna for the Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival last weekend when he says he was arrested and kept overnight in a cell without explanation.

Smith is the operations director for Adventure Bookings in Cape Town.

Saps spokesperson Malcolm Pojie said the station had received the complaint, but could not comment further.

“The complainant will be liaised with directly and be kept up to date regarding this investigation,” Pojie said.

Pojie would not respond to any questions related to Smith’s allegations.

In his letter to Knysna Station Commander Colonel Atwell Metu, Smith said the incident, “makes a mockery of the police force”, and that he “…was not being drunk and disorderly”.

He explained in his letter that he was on his way home from a club early on Saturday when he was accosted by a homeless man on Main Road. Worried that the confrontation might escalate, Smith began to run to his hotel on the next street.

Smith says that's when a police van with two officers pulled up. One officer got out and stuck his hands in Smith’s pockets.

“I got really uncomfortable with the way his hands were in my pockets and I said, ‘I’ll empty my own pockets’,” Smith told the Cape Times.

Smith’s complaint says the officers then told him they were charging him with being “drunk in public” and bundled him into the car.

“I didn’t want to argue because I did have a couple of drinks,” Smith said.

“I didn’t want to get into a fight.”

Smith said when they got to the station, there were already 12 others who were being held. His complaint states that the officers were “physically beating up guys and making them sign a charge document”.

Smith said they didn’t take any identifying information like fingerprints or an ID number before taking his phone, wallet, and other items and putting him in a cell.

Smith was charged with “drunkenness”, even though he also says there was no breathalyser or blood alcohol test. Smith’s lawyer, Zwaai Kruger said “drunkenness” was not a real charge, and the law the officers cited was incorrect. When Kruger went to court on Monday morning, he found that Smith’s name had not been placed on the roll.


sign up