The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) believes that a police officer, issued a final written warning after he assaulted a prisoner with his service firearm while he was allegedly intoxicated, walked away with a slap on the wrist.
Sergeant Albert Gqabi, 41, based in Robertson in the Western Cape, was found guilty last week of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm, and contravention of the Firearms Control Act by the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.
Ipid national spokesperson, Robbie Raburabu, said the cop attacked 28-year-old Tlali Falatsi, a Lesotho citizen, in August 2021.
Gqabi was transporting Falatsi with a colleague to Boksburg, Gauteng, where he was awaiting trial.
“Sergeant Gqabi is said to have been drunk at the time because he was drinking in the car while his colleague was driving.
“The victim indicated that he was hit with the butt of the pistol and fists on the head, forehead, hip and he bled profusely from the wounds.
“The incident is said to have happened at the N1 Engen filling station in Bloemfontein when the driver of the police vehicle he was travelling in was using a restroom.
“This was the second time it happened,” said Raburabu.
It was alleged that in another incident while Falatsi, together with Gqabi went to relieve themselves on the side of the road, the police officer discharged his firearm in between them for no reason.
The matter was reported to Ipid and a case of assault GBH was open at the Bainsvlei police station.
“He was convicted of assault GBH and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.
“This was wholly suspended for a period of five years on condition that he is not convicted of a similar offence within the period of suspension, and further convicted of contravention of section 120(4) of the Firearms Control Act 60/2000 and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment wholly suspended for a period of three years on condition that he is not convicted of a similar offence within the period of suspension.
“Following Ipid’s recommendations, the accused was also found guilty in an SAPS expeditious process for assault and discharge of an official firearm,” said Raburabu.
He told the “Cape Times” on Monday that they believed more actions against the officer could have been taken.
“Sergeant Gqabi's charges are very serious and required action that was fitting.
“He risked the life of his colleague when he drank on duty while transporting a prisoner.
“He was only issued with a final written notice,” said Raburabu.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) also condemned the incident and shared the same sentiments, that Gqabi endangered the life of his colleague because “anything could have happened”.
“The union is disappointed in the officer’s behaviour, this could have also led to the escape of a awaiting-trial prisoner.”