Cape Town - The top cop in Mitchells Plain has demanded answers about the “burying” of a case in which police allegedly assaulted an unarmed man in February.
“I am deeply disturbed. What seems to have happened here is highly irregular,” Mitchells Plain cluster commander Major-General Jeremy Vearey said after investigating the alleged assault victim’s claims that police had conspired to protect their colleagues from prosecution.
“I have told my staff I want warrants of arrest for the two police officers allegedly involved in this assault to be on my desk by 10am on Monday. After that we will investigate why and by whom this docket was buried.
“I can only hope that it was not purposely done to protect the members involved - by someone who recognised the grave implications of the allegations.”
Mandisi Ngcwangu, secretary of the residents’ committee in the Siqalo informal settlement on Vanguard Drive, filed a complaint of assault against officers who kicked down his shack door on February 14. He alleged the officers tied him up and beat him in front of his wife and child, then dragged him away and threw into a cell.
The “apartheid-style” raid was in response to Siqalo residents having burnt tyres and blocked Vanguard Drive because they were aggrieved by the lack of service provision. Two days after the protests, police kicked down doors, broke windows, assaulted people and arrested Ngcwangu and three other people on charges of public violence.
Acting on advice from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), Ngcwangu filed a complaint at the Mitchells Plain police station and not the station in Lentegeur or Philippi.
Officers from these stations were apparently involved in the raid. Ngcwangu feared there could be biased handling of the case, by police protecting colleagues, if he reported it there.
Yet, instead of the docket being referred to Ipid’s Bellville offices in line with protocol, it was sent to Lentegeur. The names of the officers involved in the alleged attack on Ngcwangu correspond to the names of two officers at Lentegeur. Veary could not establish immediately whether these were the officers involved.
Ngcwangu, who approached the Cape Argus for help in locating the docket, said his queries had been ignored by police officers in Mitchells Plain and Lentegeur.
“I really believe the police tried to cover this up purposely, because what those officers did on the night of the raid was illegal and brutal.
“If we cannot go to the police to protect our rights, where else is there for us to turn? Many people in Siqalo feel that the police are their enemies.”
Veary is also to investigate whether there are links between the police involved in the raid and a group of Colorado Park ratepayers who have been lobbying for informal settlement residents to be forcibly moved.
The Western Cape High Court is to rule on May 12 whether Siqalo’s residents may stay on the private land.
* The Cape Argus sent a formal request to the provincial police for information on the assault docket. In their response, the police gave the wrong case number and said no such case was on record.