File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town – A warrant of arrest has been issued for a Free State police officer who failed to appear with six colleagues in the Edenburg Magistrate’s Court this week over the alleged assault of hitchhikers.

The seven officers – six men and a woman, respectively from Trompsburg and Edenburg – are each facing an assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm charge. 

They allegedly assaulted a group of hitchhikers on October 2, 2017, after mistaking them for suspects who had robbed a local furniture store, OFM News reported on Wednesday.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Sontaga Seisa stressed that Ipid would be “following the correct legal procedures in terms of executing the warrant of arrests”. 

National Prosecuting Authority Phaladi Shuping said the case has been postponed to January 10, 2020 for trial.

One of the hitchhikers, Lerato Edgar Mokotso, said he and three other people were hitchhiking on the N1 outside Trompsburg, heading to Edenburg, when they got a lift in a van, which was stopped by police shortly afterwards. 

The police officers then accused them of robbing a local furniture store. They allege police assaulted them while in custody – before releasing them for wrongful arrest on the same day.

IOL