Johannesburg - The Kempton Park police are under investigation after being accused of a wrongful arrest and false charging of a DA operations manager.
The man claims this happened after he witnessed a shocking incident of police brutality in custody.
The opposition party has now called for all the officers involved to be held accountable for their actions and for an explanation as to why police believe that citizens can be arrested for filming in a public space.
Ashley Hoods told The Star he had been arrested on Wednesday January 15 for using his cellphone to film officers making an arrest on Pretoria Road in Kempton Park.
“I wanted to monitor what was happening. I worry about how police react in these situations,” said Hoods.
When two officers noticed Hoods with his cellphone, they approached him, asking if he was a journalist. When he said “no”, he was immediately arrested and told he was “trying to give the police a bad name”.
He said he was slapped by the officers as he tried to explain his actions. The police officers bundled him into a police van with five other bystanders who had also been watching and filming the arrest.
Hoods said he saw the two men originally held being beaten by a group of officers in Kempton Park police station’s booking room on his arrival.
“I identified myself to the officers present and explained that I worked for a political organisation and that I did not want to be a witness to this senseless beating of two men already in custody,” said Hoods.
The operations manager said this angered the officers, who then threatened to beat him too unless he unlocked his phone to delete his footage.
Hoods claims that a high-ranking officer, apparently a colonel, had entered the room during the beating but failed to put a stop to the attack.
The officer then allegedly said all the bystanders and the two originally arrested should be charged with the same crime: armed robbery and assault.
“I nearly fainted when I saw the charges that were brought against me,” said Hoods.
He and his co-accused were kept in prison for two days before they appeared at the local magistrate’s court.
“My attorney made representations for me to the prosecutor, and charges against me were withdrawn. The other six men were released on free bail,” he said.
Hoods said he can identify all the officers involved.
His experience was compiled into a written statement that DA spokeswoman for community safety Kate Lorimer sent to acting Gauteng provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba.
SAPS spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila said a full investigation would be conducted to determine whether any misconduct had taken place.