470 3/19/2012 One of the residents from Meadowlands, Soweto,who was wrongfully arrested and assulted bythe police over the weekend during protests. Residents are demand speed humps from local councellors following the death of school children in the area. Picture: Ayanda Sitole

A Meadowlands man who believes he was wrongfully arrested and assaulted by Joburg metro police officers during a protest at the weekend intends opening a lawsuit against them.

The 26-year-old hairdresser, who asked not to be named, was to open a case of assault on Tuesday against his alleged assailants, who he said had pounced on him on Friday night on his return from work during a community protest in Maseru Street in Zone 7.

Residents had barricaded the notorious street, demanding that local councillor Norman Ngwedzeni be removed from his position of ward councillor, which he has occupied since 1995.

They said Ngwedzeni had failed to erect speed-restricting measures on Maseru and Lekankagata streets, where two children have been killed by speeding motorists this year.

Six-year-old Tshepang Mokoena was killed in Lekankagata Street in January. Nine-year-old Tshegofatso Mampe lost her life last month after she was hit by a car in Maseru Street, which runs parallel to Lekankagata.

With his left arm and back bruised, and swollen from the alleged police beating, the man was granted R500 bail in the Meadowlands Magistrate’s Court, where his case was postponed to April 20.

The hairdresser said he had not been part of the protesting crowd on Friday. “I did not hurt a single person. I am still shocked by the arrest.”

He said the only crime he had committed was running in the same direction as residents when police officers were chasing people during the protest.

“I was running home when they caught me. I was about to close the gate when a metro cop caught me inside the yard. Together with his colleagues, they klapped and dragged me to a Toyota Quantum minibus they were driving, and I was beaten until we arrived at the station.”

His neighbour, Maphefo Moeketsi, said she had heard the man’s landlady screaming when he was being beaten by metro police members in the street.

“He was asking what he had done. They kept on beating him badly while taking him away,” she said.

Moeketsi said she was afraid her cellphone could be confiscated if she had tried to film the action.

On Sunday, a group of Meadowlands Zone 7 residents gathered at the local police station, where they demanded the release of those arrested on Friday night, including the hairdresser.

Meadowlands Concerned Residents Association leader Patrick Mohlophegi expressed the community’s dismay at the police officers’ action.

“We visited the station twice over the weekend to find out about the man’s whereabouts, but we were told he was not here. We are still disappointed that while he made his appearance in court, we were told he was under police guard at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.”

Police spokesman Sibusiso Chauke said the man had been arrested for public violence.

Metro police spokesman Wayne Minnaar said metro officers were visible at the scene during the protest.

“The officers had warned residents not to barricade the road with rocks. He was arrested after punching a female metro cop on her head using his fist when he was warned,” said Minnaar. - The Star