Get IOL's cool new iPad app...
Durban - A Durban man and his desperately ill wife were left feeling helpless and outraged this week after allegedly being assaulted by an Ethekwini Metro policeman, while the city’s Metro Police boss, Eugene Nzama, stood by, shouting at them.
Lutchman Natalie said he arrived at Addington Hospital on Thursday morning, where his wife Shereen required treatment.
Shereen, who suffers from diabetes, had recently undergone surgery where one leg was amputated and her other foot was also bandaged due to treatment.
“The disabled parking bays were all taken. So I parked across the road from the hospital, next to an Ethekwini metro police vehicle.
“I tried to get my wife out of the car and into her wheelchair, but as the metro vehicle was parked badly across the white line, there was not enough space,” said Natalie.
He said what happened next, left the couple in a state of shock.
“There was a passenger sitting in the metro vehicle and I asked him where the driver was.
“He didn’t want to help, so I went to look for the driver who was on the island coming across the road.
“The driver asked me why I was swearing at his boss and punched me on the shoulder,” said Natalie.
His wife Shereen was trapped in the car listening to the drama unfold behind her, feeling helpless and scared.
“They were both shouting and screaming at me. The police are meant to protect us. All I wanted was for them to please park properly, so I could get my wife out of the car and to the hospital,” said Natalie.
Natalie said the two metro policemen then got into their vehicle and drove away and he went to the nearest police station where he laid a charge of assault.
Yesterday police spokesman Captain Thulani Zwane confirmed that a case of common assault had been opened at the Mahatma Gandhi (Point) Road police station, relating to the incident.
“No arrest has been made, but we are investigating the incident,” he said.
Ethekwini Metro Police spokesman, Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi, confirmed that Nzama was the man in the passenger seat in the photo supplied, but was unable to comment on the allegations made by Natalie as Nzama was absent from work yesterday due to illness.
The DA Ethekwini Caucus Leader, Tex Collins, said last night that should the allegations be true, such behaviour by the city’s top cop was “absolutely unacceptable”.
“If these allegations are true, then it’s symptomatic of what is wrong with the metro police. Nzama should have taken charge of the situation and moved the car out of the way, so the poor woman could be helped out of her vehicle.
Nzama became the face of controversy within Ethekwini Traffic Department last year, with calls for him to be sacked.
On Friday disgruntled metro officers confirmed they held a clandestine meeting on Thursday where Nzama’s future was discussed. The officers said they had given the city ample time to address the matter and ensure Nzama was no longer their boss by the end of this year.
“Nzama, who has had a tempestuous relationship with his subordinates for several years, was placed on three months’ special leave by city manager Sbu Sithole in June.
He was reinstated after he challenged the move in the Durban Labour Court.
Despite several “generous” offers by the city, attempts by metro officers, taxi drivers and even criminals to have him removed, Nzama has remained defiant, refusing to budge from his position.
The city council has even called on ANC heavyweights, including the party’s regional chairman, Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, to broker an agreement with Nzama, but the negotiations reportedly failed.
The city’s legal team is said to be drafting a settlement for Nzama which is expected to be presented to him soon. The proposal is a lump sum, equivalent to 24 months’ salary.
Mayor James Nxumalo has repeatedly said that the city was “dealing” with the Nzama issue, refusing to divulge more information.
To comment, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Independent on Saturday