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Kimberley - Cosatu in the Northern Cape has called for the removal of the Provincial Commissioner of Police, Lieutenant-General Janet Basson, who they believe has soured relations, after six executive Popcru members were allegedly assaulted by members of the Tactical Response Team.
In an attempt to meet with her over grievances emanating from the K9 unit, the members refused to vacate her office on Tuesday and were arrested.
Basson had other work commitments in Pretoria and had requested for the meeting to be postponed until December 11.
Popcru’s provincial chairman Zamani Mathiso, provincial secretary Boitumelo Pheleo, deputy provincial secretary Margaret Molefe, deputy provincial chairman Mzukisi Zikhundlu, provincial treasurer Charity Links and the provincial paralegal consultant Vuyo Elms appeared in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of trespassing.
The case was postponed until January 31 for further investigation.
Elms said that they were thrown against walls and vehicles, kicked and also assaulted in the basement of the provincial office building in George Street, in the presence of Major-General Henriette de Waal.
“We were choked and punched for about 30 minutes when we refused to leave. We were taken to the holding cells at the Kimberley police station at about 7pm without being charged.
“We were released at about 10.45pm after the head of department for Safety and Liaison, Stephen Jonkers, intervened,” Elms said.
He indicated that he had sustained a twisted arm as well as scratches and bruises.
“We now have first-hand experience of how members are treated.” Popcru provincial secretary Boitumelo Pheleo added that the members sustained various injuries and had obtained medical reports of their injuries.
He believed that irreparable damage was caused to their relationship with Basson.
“How can we trust her leadership if avoidance tactics are used and we are arrested when we try to engage with her on pertinent issues?”
Cosatu provincial secretary, Anele Gxoyiya, added that members could not be charged for occupying a public building.
“Undue force was used on members who were staging a peaceful sit in. It is deplorable that the provincial commissioner chose to attend a gala dinner in Pretoria instead of listening to the concerns of the members.
“It is almost halfway through December and there are no crime prevention strategies for the festive season.”
He stated that Basson had reversed all forms of progress within the police service and that she was not fit to stand office.
Gxoyiya added that sporting codes such as soccer and the police choir received no funding while rugby was fully-funded by the employee assistance programme.
Police spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Hendrik Swart, on Wednesday denied that any assaults took place.
He explained that several senior officers were present during the arrests on Tuesday after “several negotiation attempts” had failed to persuade members to leave the office.
“Negotiators from the police head office in Pretoria tried to resolve the matter and requested the national Popcru office to intervene.
“Major-General Henriette de Waal and Colonel Nicky Mills from the provincial detective service also tried to convince them to leave and later warned them that they would be lawfully arrested for trespassing.”
Swart indicated that the Basson’s office was not considered to be public premises in her absence.
“Some offices are regarded as restricted areas due to the nature of the documentation dealt with in these offices.”
He added that the meeting with Popcru and Basson was still scheduled for December 11.
Swart also said that it was a fallacy that unfair financial allocations were being made to certain sporting codes and pointed out that the provincial festive season operation was launched on November 23.
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