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Durban - An argument with a neighbour resulted in a Hillcrest man spending a night in a jail cell, in what he describes as an act of retribution exacted by police officers on behalf of his neighbour this week.
Jason Munro, of Winston Park, said that he confronted his neighbour in February in response to his incessant hooting in their complex.
“This guy likes to lean on his hooter every time he leaves or enters the complex, all to get one of his kids to open the gate for him. It had gone on for months and I finally had enough and decided to talk to him,” he said.
Munro added that when the verbal exchange ended in an impasse, he had walked away, thinking that the matter had gone unresolved.
“Two weeks after we had the argument, it was late at night and the police knocked on my door, saying that they had come to arrest me for assaulting my neighbour and trespassing. I never touched him and I argued with him in his driveway, I didn’t go on to his property,” he said.
The 26-year-old said that after he was thrown into the back of an unmarked police car, he was driven around for more than four hours while the officers arrested three other men.
“My girlfriend was distraught and she was worried they were going to take me somewhere secluded and beat me. After what happened in Daveyton we don’t trust the police. They were rude and aggressive and would not let me explain my side of the story,” he said. “They arrested one man and threw him into the back of the car with me. A police officer got inside and started hitting him as he cowered,” Munro added.
When he arrived at the Hillcrest Police Station, the officers refused to let him write his statement, and promptly threw him into the holding cells to spend the night.
“During my court appearance the next day, the magistrate let me off with a warning, that’s how trivial this matter is. I have no doubt that the police were trying to send a message and that is wrong. People have had enough of their heavy- handed tactics. I don’t stand to gain anything from pursuing this matter. I’m just tired of people being treated like dirt. If I don’t stand up it will happen to the next guy,” he said.
Private investigator Brad Nathanson said he had been called in to investigate.
“All police officers are not bad, but in this incident it smacks of an abuse of power. To arrest someone and force them to spend a night in the cells when it’s not necessary speaks to this abuse,” he said.
Police spokesman Colonel Vincent Mdunge said the officers had not acted out of turn.
“When police conduct a suspect raid, they are fully within the ambit of the law to detain one man while they search for others. They have 48 hours to investigate the case, that is, formulate the charges from sworn statements from a complainant and witnesses and then effect an arrest and make sure that that person is presented before court,” he said.
We are not in the habit of arresting people to punish them. Their punishment, if any, is to be decided by a magistrate,” he said.
Munro is pursuing charges of wrongful arrest.