KRISTEN VAN SCHIE

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Two Ekurhuleni metro police department (EMPD) officers are being called to account after being accused of laughing at a wheelchair student who confronted them for parking in a disabled parking space.

Last Tuesday, 23-year-old Gerhard Swarts arrived at Festival Mall in Kempton Park at about 3pm, only to find an EMPD vehicle with registration XSC295 GP parked in the disabled parking.

“I asked my driver to park just behind the car, because I’ve been struggling with this a lot lately,” said Swarts.

“When I saw it was a metro police car, I thought that they should know it’s against the law for them to park there.”

There was no driver in the car, so Swarts moved to the passenger side, where he asked the officer if there was anybody disabled in the vehicle.

“She said ‘no’, so I said I would wait for the driver.”

The driver, also an EMPD officer, arrived five minutes later.

“I said, ‘I can see you’re not disabled’. She said ‘no’, climbed in the car and slammed the door in my face.”

When the officers refused to open their windows to talk to Swarts, he tried to get their attention, first tapping the window, then hitting the window, then ramming his wheelchair into the car.

“They didn’t react. They just sat there laughing and talking on their radios.”

By now, a small crowd had assembled, and mall security.

EMPD chief superintendent Wilfred Kgasago said

: “We’re taking statements… which will be submitted to our integrity and standards unit.”

Swarts said:

“While she was driving away, I told the officer to put on her seatbelt.”

She reversed her car and drove off, her seatbelt still off.

l Kgasago encourages all witnesses of both this incident and others like it to come forward. He can be contacted on 083 607 8125.