Durban - Greg Brown, a quadriplegic 54-year-old, is traumatised after allegedly being mistreated by police at Chatsworth police station this week.
Brown has cerebral palsy caused by permanent brain damage at birth and is termed quadriplegic, although he has limited use of one arm. He relies on a motorised wheelchair to get around.
Four officers barged into his Newlands West home on Thursday and arrested him on fraud charges.
He was removed from his wheelchair and was forced to sit in a manual wheelchair at the station for hours, unable to move or even to go to the toilet.
He claims he was also refused water.
“The officers said I was doing illegal things and placed me under arrest for fraud. They accused me of forging a birth certificate for someone in South Africa I don’t even know,” he said.
The fraud charge stems from allegations Brown was doctoring documents through the small printing business he runs from his home to earn additional income.
“I understand they must investigate this fraud charge, I welcome it. But the way the officers treated me left me traumatised. I am still shaking… Physically and mentally it has been a drain on me,” he said.
The officers refused to put his seatbelt on when he was being taken to the police station in a police car and he had to ask for assistance to be taken to the toilet at the station.
“I was told I would be kept overnight and if they couldn’t find a bed I would have to sleep on the floor. When I asked for water they said they don’t give prisoners water. I managed to get a message to my friend Barry Edy, who raises awareness for para- and quadriplegics. He went out of his way to help me, and helped to get me released. If it wasn’t for him I would have spent the night on the floor or even the weekend locked up,” Brown said.
“Eventually I was given a form to sign that allowed me to go home at about midnight on Thursday. Officers said I was free to go but had to appear in court on Monday. If I had stayed at that station any longer I would probably be dead because I have to take special medication with food, which I didn’t have the whole time I was there.”
Brown said he hoped by speaking out he could help prevent other disabled people from enduring what he did.
Edy was outraged at the treatment of Brown.
“After Greg called me I got in touch with the prosecutor, who wasn’t even made aware of his physical disability. A quadriplegic person cannot be put in a police cell if it is not equipped to deal with their disability. He cannot walk and needs assistance for almost everything. Officers need to be trained to know how to treat people with difficulties. You cannot treat people like this,” he said.
Police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed Brown was arrested and charged this week.
He said he was released on a warning to appear in the Chatsworth Magistrate’s Court tomorrow.
Zwane had not commented on the allegations of mistreatment at the time of publication.