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eManzimtoti - FOUR policemen allegedly involved in the unauthorised seizure of a private vehicle from an eManzimtoti repair shop have been charged, but this has brought little comfort to the owner of the business.
Barry Male, owner of Barry’s Auto Clinic at the Southgate industrial park, told the Daily News on Thursday that his once thriving business was crippled after the police incident, leaving him no choice but to close it.
CCTV cameras had captured several on-duty police officers, in full uniform, storming his workshop in marked police vehicles and a tow truck and forcibly removing a vehicle belonging to eManzimtoti policeman, Warrant Officer S’bu Boya. The vehicle was taken from the shop floor, allegedly without the bill for the repairs being settled.
Boya, 44, appeared in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday with three of his colleagues – Mandilakhe Shumayela, 27, Sizahani Cibane, 39 and Nomvelo Zuma, 41 – after being charged with housebreaking with the intent to steal.
Prosecutor Yuben Achary did not oppose bail, set at R2 000 each.
The state alleges that Boya and his colleagues descended on the workshop and removed his private vehicle, which was the subject of a civil suit.
Boya took his vehicle to Barry’s Auto Clinic for repairs in December and was quoted R25 000.
He paid a deposit of R8 000 but in January, after the repairs had been completed, Boya was prevented from taking the vehicle because he allegedly did not have the balance of the money.
Male allegedly told him a fee of R300 a day would be charged for storage if the vehicle was not removed and when the vehicle was not fetched, he threatened to sell it to recover his expenses.
In May, Boya and his colleagues allegedly went to the premises, sirens blazing, and removed the vehicle without paying.
Earlier this month, the Daily News reported that Boya was back at work after an internal police disciplinary panel had found him guilty and fined him R350.
Boya had been suspended on full pay for two months pending the hearing.
The incident sparked a lively public debate and even drew the attention of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Willies Mchunu and provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, who both promised a thorough investigation into the alleged abuse of authority.
But, despite their public statement condemning any sort of criminality and intimidation in the province and vowing to closely monitor the case, the department seemed unaware of the fine, which was being described in some quarters as a “slap on the wrist”.
Spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, said the department would study the decision to determine whether the internal police disciplinary hearing was fair and transparent.
Male said he was “speechless”.
“I feel like as a member of the community who was trying to get rid of the bad apples, I got the short end of the stick,” he said.
“I decided to stand up to him (Boya) and I don’t even have the backing of the community.”
Male said his numerous calls to the department for an update on his case had been in vain.
By Monday, his business premises would be closed and the repair business moved to the garage of his home, he said.