Cartoonist Andre Trantraal, 30, alleges that 10 to 15 officers threatened him and his family and damaged their home during a search without a search warrant.
Cartoonist Andre Trantraal, 30, alleges that 10 to 15 officers threatened him and his family and damaged their home during a search without a search warrant.

‘Police threatened my family’

By Chad Cupido Time of article published Feb 7, 2011

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A Cape Times cartoonist, who draws the weekly The Richenbaums strip, has alleged that police threatened and held his family at gunpoint before searching their Lansdowne home without a warrant.

Describing the incident, Andre Trantraal said: “I was about to enter my front gate when two police vans pulled up and 10 to 15 heavily armed policemen got out. One of them ordered me to lie down or he said he’d kick me. The rest of the policemen kicked the front door open, shattering one of the glass panels.”

He said the officer standing over him asked if he knew the previous owners.

“We’ve been renting this house for the last two months and I told him that the previous tenant was a builder.”

Meanwhile, Trantraal’s mother, sister and two nephews were inside. His mother, Charmaine, 50, said: “I ran to the living room and saw three policemen standing over my daughter and her boy, who were both kneeling. The officers were aiming their guns at them. My other grandson Zachary, 4, ran over to me, crying.” She said several other heavily armed policemen then entered the room.

“They told me to lie down. One of the officers asked me where the man of the house was. I was in shock, trembling all over.”

Trantraal said: “The ordeal left my nephew traumatised. A child with a gun aimed at him. They had no grounds for searching our home in that manner. They acted like thugs.”

When Trantraal tried to lodge a complaint with the Lansdowne SAPS he was referred to Philippi, he said.

Superintendent Andre Traut said five premises were searched in Lansdowne on that day during an anti-crime operation to curb the drug trade in the area. He said there were search warrants for all five but could not confirm if Trantraal’s house was searched as his name did not appear on police records.

In a second incident, in Richwood, a resident allegedly returned home to find her security gate destroyed. Assuming there was a burglar in her home, she rushed to a neighbour screaming, to later find out that it was allegedly the police who had entered and damaged her home.

Samantha O’Connor took her twins to crèche just before 8am on Tuesday. She returned 15 minutes later to find her home had been broken into, which was confirmed by a neighbour.

“I saw a Vito (crew bus), a Bothasig police van and a car from Parow SAPS outside the home and they left about 10 minutes later,” he alleged.

O’Connor said the Bothasig police station had confirmed that 14 officers were sent to her home after an apparent tip-off.

“Police said the home was occupied by drug users. However, they failed to provide us with a copy of the search warrant,” she said.

Traut confirmed that the premises were searched for contraband. He said the search was authorised by a search warrant.

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