Court hearing over Diwali row

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Independent Newspapers

Fireworks over the Durban harbour. File photo: Rogan Ward

Durban - Police have wrapped up their investigation into a complaint by a Bluff man who accused his neighbours of storming on to his property on Diwali night and forcing him to stop lighting fireworks.

According to a police source, detectives are expected, within the next 48 hours, to charge one of the people who complained about the fireworks with trespassing and intimidation.

Amil Singh had laid a complaint with the Brighton Beach police station last week after some of his neighbours “traumatised” him at his home by allegedly kicking down his gate, hurling racist remarks at him, threatening to shoot him and smashing his clay lamps.

Singh, celebrating his first Diwali in Watsonia Road, claimed the trespasser rounded up a “mob of 12 to 15 people” – including a person with a loudhailer telling him to leave the Bluff – after he let off “pretty, colourful fireworks and sparklers”.

Singh’s neighbours, and the man who allegedly abused him, have rejected his version of events, claiming that there were five people present and they confronted him after he had ignited fireworks that sounded like bombs.

Watsonia Road resident Kim Howard, who had also spoken to Singh on the night of the incident, said he would challenge Singh’s claims in court. “It is sad that the incident has gone as far as it has, but if he is adamant that he wants a court case, I say bring it on,” Howard said on Thursday.

“I know I have done nothing wrong and the people who were there that night did nothing wrong. This was not about his race or religion but about the big bangs he was letting off that night.”

Howard said he would contest many of Singh’s allegations, including that his gate had been “kicked down” and that he had been verbally abused.

“I will be the first to give evidence in court,” he said.

Singh said he had spent several hours at the Brighton Beach police station on Wednesday night going through the CCTV footage of the incident with a detective.

He also took two independent witnesses with him who gave corroborating statements to police.

In addition, Singh said he had written to DA leader Helen Zille on Monday asking her to get area councillor Duncan du Bois to intervene in the matter.

“I hope that the DA can come and educate the people on the Bluff and tell them they are no longer a law unto themselves and if they had a problem they should have called the police who would have intervened,” he said. “They should not have acted the way they did.”

Singh said that he had not heard from his neighbours since the incident.

Asked if he believed that possible arrests would further sour relationships, Singh said: “I am not quite sure how people will react. All I want is for justice to be done.”

Zille’s office did not respond to e-mail and SMS enquiries from the Daily News on Thursday.

Du Bois said he doubted Zille would involve herself with a local issue “that needs to be handled locally”.

“Until mediation has taken place I am not going to offer any opinion,” he said. “However, I am saddened that this has happened.” - Daily News


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