Cape Town -
The Nigerian who was allegedly stripped and beaten by police in the CBD earlier this month has become reclusive, depressed and paranoid, his sister says.
He stays away from his home and work for long periods, fearing that police will track him there and harm him, she says. He has become aloof with his own family and refuses to be interviewed by the press.
An amateur video of police officers allegedly assaulting him led to the arrest and suspension of the two warrant officers from Cape Town police station. Two Cape Central Improvement District officers allegedly involved in the beating were also suspended.
The Nigerian foreign ministry called the attack merciless and the country’s embassy in Pretoria sent a “strongly worded” letter to the South African government demanding the perpetrators be brought to justice.
The man’s sister said he was a different man after the attack:
“He used to be lively and humorous, now he is scared and withdrawn. He just sits quietly with his arms crossed. That assault had a terrible impact on him. The injuries on his body are healing, but he is psychologically damaged.”
She emigrated from Nigeria eight years ago and runs a bar in Salt River. Her brother contributes to the family income by selling gold products and doing gold tooth implants in Bellville. But, lately he has been skipping work, leaving a financial burden on other members of the family.
“He also does not come home (in Milnerton) very often, because he is afraid the police will track him there.”
A family friend, Obum Ezenwa, said the alleged assault was typical of his own experiences with police. “They think that because you are a Nigerian they do not have to protect you like they do South Africans. I have been the victim of crime and the police just tell me to get lost when I try to report it.”
He said his friend’s injuries were healing, but he still complained about urinary and back pains from being repeatedly hit and kicked in the groin.
A law firm in Cape Town had offered to help him lodge a civil claim against the police, but had not come back to him and did not respond to queries from the Cape Argus.
He is alleged by the CCID to have been “riotous” at the time of the assault. He had been accused of theft by the owner of the Sky Sports Bar in Riebeeck Street.
The officers, Gerrit Januarie and David Gunn, have been charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. They are on bail and are due in court in May.