Johannesburg - Two Joburg women were left “shaken” and infuriated after metro cops allegedly thrust them into the back of their van for speaking out as they dragged a Metrobus driver out of his bus.
The cops’ actions were triggered by the bus being steered in a dedicated Rea Vaya bus lane.
The mother and daughter were arrested and held for nearly six hours onday following the 7am incident.
Michele Selling and her daughter, Terché Jardine, were on a Metrobus from Fleurhof in Joburg south, on their way to their respective workplaces in Parktown and Auckland Park, when their bus was stopped by Joburg metro police department (JMPD) officers.
The pair said the officers told the driver to either pay a fine on the spot or they would arrest him. When he refused to pay, they threw him on the floor of the bus to arrest him.
“We said ‘What are you arresting him for? We’re not getting off the bus because we’ve paid and how are we going to get to work?’,” Jardine said.
“They weren’t concerned about the passengers,” Selling added.
Cellphone footage The Star has seen shows several passengers arguing with the officers as they struggled to arrest the driver.
The two-and-a-half minute cellphone footage – filmed by another passenger on the bus – starts with the driver splayed on the floor of the vehicle with two male JMPD officers trying to handcuff him.
It is difficult to see exactly what the two officers are doing in the footage, because of the angle it is being recorded at, but it appears they are struggling to subdue the driver and get handcuffs on him.
A third JMPD officer then joins in and appears to get the cuffs onto the driver’s right wrist, before they pull him up on his feet.
The situation becomes tense as the driver appears to lash out at one of the officers with his hand, but the officer dodges the swipe.
This seems to be the last straw for the three officers. The video ends as they forcefully push the driver off the bus.
The woman JMPD officer who allegedly arrested Selling and her daughter can be seen in the video shouting at the passengers, many of whom have their cellphones out.
“You can shoot (film), whatever you want to do, you can record us. We’re doing our jobs here. Shoot, take it to the Daily Sun. We are arresting you,” she said.
Another officer can be heard saying: “We spoke to the driver nicely.”
“Nicely?” comes a chorus of replies from several passengers.
“That was not nice,” a woman passenger said.
Officers and passengers continue to argue loudly during the rest of the video.
“Hello, people help us, everybody stop your cars,” one woman calls to motorists passing the bus.
“This is police brutality,” another passenger commented, followed by another who said: “This is disgusting, disgusting! How can you do this?”
One of the passengers then asks why other vehicles using the Rea Vaya lane are not being targeted.
When the driver was eventually pulled off the vehicle, Selling and Jardine walked to another bus stop to continue on their journey.
About 15 minutes after they left the bus, a woman JMPD officer allegedly pointed at them and said to fellow officers “Arrest the white women”, which they said upset them as they had done nothing wrong.
They also questioned why they were referred to as white.
“I hit my head and jaw because they lifted me from my feet and threw me into the van,” Jardine said.
Speaking outside the Sophiatown police station nearly six hours after their arrest, Selling said she was “a bit shaken”.
Sophiatown police spokesman Warrant Officer Jerbes de Bruyn confirmed the two women were charged with interfering with a JMPD officer’s duties.
JMPD spokesman Wayne Minnaar also confirmed it, but would not comment on allegations the women were arrested for challenging the officers.
He said this would “form part of the investigation” and could also not confirm if the driver was arrested for driving in a Rea Vaya lane.
“I think the bus driver was released on a warning. At this stage I cannot confirm the reason why the officers stopped the bus driver or why they wanted to issue him with a traffic fine,” Minnaar said.
Allegations of wrongful arrest would also be investigated, he added.
Metrobus spokeswoman Esther Dreyer said they would investigate the matter, but could not comment further at the time of publication.
Selling and Jardine were expected to appear in the Sophiatown Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.