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Cape Town - A video of police beating, throttling and kicking a naked man in the Cape Town CBD caused a stir online on Friday.
The incident occurred in Riebeeck Street outside the Sky Sports Bar on Thursday morning. An office worker filmed part of the assault from a nearby building.
The video, uploaded on Facebook on Thursday night, shows two police officers accosting a man dressed in a pair of briefs near the open boot of a Volkswagen Golf.
Two Central City Improvement District (CCID) officers and a private security guard are also on the scene.
In the video, a police officer and an officer from the CCID pull the man away from the car and into the street. The CCID officer pulls down the man’s briefs. The victim struggles to get away, but the two police officers grab his wrists. One of the officers throttles the man with his right hand before pinning the victim’s hands behind his back. The officer is assisted by the security guard.
At this stage, the second police officer punches the victim three times in the groin. The victim bends over in pain and the police officer holding him from behind jabs his elbow into the man’s back.
The officer who had thrown the initial punches then kicks the victim in the groin twice as a CCID officer holds the man’s arms behind his back. The man is pulled towards a waiting police van. He is kicked as he tries to get in. All the while he is bleeding from a gash at the back of his head.
The woman who filmed the assault spoke to the Cape Argus on Friday morning. She asked that her name and the company for which she works not be mentioned out of concerns for her safety.
“What you see on the video is only a fraction of the assault. It went on for about half an hour in total,” she said.
She added that she arrived on the scene before the police. At that stage she saw the man lying naked near thedoorway of Sky Sports Bar in Riebeeck Street, next to a pile of clothes. It appeared as though he had been assaulted already.
She saw the man get up and put on his briefs, but the rest of his clothing had been taken into the night club.
The man’s identity and the reason for him lying naked on the pavement could not be established at the time of going to print.
The witness said CCID personnel arrived on the scene and apparently called the police .
On the video voices can be heard, apparently of other witnesses, who allege that the gash in the man’s head was inflicted by the police.
The eyewitness also identified the officer to the Cape Argus - having read his surname from a name badge. She said the officer arrested one of her co-workers for “interfering with police work” after noticing that the incident was being filmed.
Police spokesman Warrant Officer November Filander asked for patience from the public.
“Police are currently in the process of viewing the footage in question,” he said. “An investigation into the matter has been launched and once finalised, we will ensure that a decisive action is taken against those involved. Acts of brutality in any form, that are perpetrated (by police) will not be tolerated.”
Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant General Arno Lamoer said that normal protocol would apply and “if police members were found to have acted outside the law they would be suspended without pay with immediate effect pending the outcome of an investigation”.
Police had not responded to queries about the man’s identity and current whereabouts at the time of publication.
CCID spokeswoman Carola Koblitz initially denied that CCID officers were involved in the attack. She refused to comment and referred queries to the police. Later she contacted the Cape Argus, saying that the CCID would release a statement. This had not come through by the time of going to print.