Guys in berets ‘told me they were cops’

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Copy of ca p2 Nazier Paulsen8326 (41198500) CAPE ARGUS The Economic Freedom Fighters provincial convener Nazier Paulsen said he couldnt say whether the group in EFF berets and T-shirts claiming to be police were party members. Photo: David Ritchie

Cape Town - A Swellendam farm supervisor driving a truck full of workers home was forced to a halt by a carload of people dressed in EFF berets and T-shirts and claiming to be police.

Paul Cilliers was driving the workers to their homes in Railton about 8.20pm on Monday when a white Mercedes-Benz sped past. It stopped in front of him with hazard lights blinking, forcing Cilliers to stop.

Four or five men and women alighted, wearing red EFF tops and berets, and khaki army pants.

Cilliers said they started taking pictures of him and the truck, demanding to see his licence and asking which farm he worked for.

“One guy said the truck I’m driving is not safe enough for transporting people. I felt threatened, backed into a corner. It was a fearful thing.”

He said that throughout the confrontation the workers sat quietly in the back of the truck, many of them texting.

Cilliers asked the beret-wearing group who they were, but got no reply.

“I asked again, are you police? They said yes.”

Not believing them, Cilliers drove off.

“I got such a shock. I don’t want to be intimidated by political parties, irrespective of who they are.”

He said panic prevented him from noting the Mercedes’ registration plate, but he reported the matter to the police.

The Swellendam police confirmed the incident. Captain FC van Wyk said they were told by Cilliers that the beret-wearing people “introduced themselves as police officials and asked him for his driver’s licence and wanted to take a photo”.

The police patrolled the area and searched for the vehicle, without success.

According to their report, Cilliers did not want to lay a charge.

Nazier Paulsen, provincial convener of the EFF, couldn’t confirm that the group in EFF gear were party members, but he defended their actions.

“If they were our members I would share the sentiment that farmworkers should be transported in a dignified condition. Farmers should treat farmworkers better on their farms and in their transport. That’s the only way to end the aggression.”

In response to the group claiming they were police, Paulsen said they may have been off-duty members of the force.

“The security cluster is very much in favour of EFF policy, so maybe they were police.”

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Cape Argus

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