MEC wants paramedic scuffle probed

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IOL news jan 23  ca  Dan Plato INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS File photo: Western Cape MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato

Cape Town - Police officers who apparently manhandled a paramedic attending to a Franschhoek accident scene should be investigated, Western Cape community safety MEC Dan Plato said on Thursday.

The incident on Tuesday, posted on video sharing site Youtube, shows two police officers escorting the medic past an accident scene to their police van, where they try to push him in after arresting him.

The medic is heard asking if he can enter the van himself because he has a broken leg that is healing. The officers can be heard saying they would use the necessary force against him.

Another official is then seen begging the officers to help secure the accident scene.

After watching the video online, Plato said he had written to provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer to request an urgent investigation.

The MEC said he was required to monitor police conduct and promote relations between police and the community as part of his oversight role.

"The conduct of the two police officers in the report raises serious questions about those officers' ability to manage an accident scene, and suggests that they do not have a good relationship with the local community after arresting what appears to be a man only willing to help, in a legitimate capacity, in a very serious situation."

Plato said he would be asking provincial health MEC Theuns Botha  whether any similar cases had occurred in the past.

The paramedic in the video was identified on social media sites as Garth van Zyl, who works for Medicare EMR.

He had been attending to a truck carrying sheep that had overturned on Franschhoek pass.

Western Cape police spokesman Lt-Col Andre Traut said the paramedic was arrested in Lambrechts Road at 1pm on Tuesday for "hindering a police officer to perform his duties".

"The circumstances surrounding the matter are still under investigation, and this office is at this point unfortunately not in a position to comment on the finer aspects of the matter," Traut  said.

He said Van Zyl was released on warning the same day and told to  appear in the Paarl Magistrate's Court on Thursday.

Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Eric Ntabazalila said Van Zyl appeared in court and his case was postponed until February 12, in the Franschhoek Magistrate's Court.

"The accused is facing another, similar case in Franschhoek on that day," Ntabazalila said.

Further details on the second case were not available. - Sapa

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