Call for probe into paramedic’s arrest

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Cape Town - The Western Cape government has called on the provincial police commissioner to “urgently” investigate an incident in which two policemen allegedly swore at and manhandled a paramedic at an accident scene in Franschhoek on Wednesday.

Paramedic Garth van Zyl of Medicare EMR in Franschhoek attended an accident in which a truck carrying sheep had overturned. He allegedly got involved in an argument with a policeman over the securing of the accident scene.

A video said to have been filmed during the incident, which ended with Van Zyl being arrested, threatened and placed in a police van, has been posted on Facebook and YouTube.

Van Zyl appeared in the Paarl Magistrate’s Court in connection with a charge of hindering a police officer in the execution of his duties yesterday.

But according to the Medicare EMR Facebook page, he should have appeared at a Franschhoek court, not in Paarl, and the case was postponed.

The apparent conduct of the policemen, exposed in the video, “raises serious questions” about their ability to manage an accident scene, said Dan Plato, Community Safety MEC.

“Following media reports and a video posted online this morning of two South African Police Service officers allegedly manhandling a medic at an accident scene earlier this week, I have written to Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, General Lamoer, requesting an urgent investigation into the matter,” Plato said.

“As part of my oversight role, I am required to monitor police conduct and among other duties enshrined in the constitution, promote good relations between the police and the community. The conduct of the two officers in the report raises serious questions about those officers’ ability to manage an accident scene, and suggests that they do not have a good relationship with the local community after arresting what appears to be a man only willing to help, in a legitimate capacity, in a very serious situation.

Plato said he had also asked his department to look into this incident as a matter of urgency.

I will also be speaking to the Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha, to find out if this is an isolated incident and, if not, how best to go about addressing the matter.”

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut on Thursday confirmed the arrest of the paramedic on a charge of hindering a police officer in the performance of his duties at 1pm on Wednesday.

“The suspect was released on the same day with a warning to make a court appearance today in Paarl.

“The circumstances surrounding the matter are still under investigation, and this office is at this point unfortunately not in a position to comment on the finer aspects of the matter until the investigation has been completed.”

Cape Argus

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