Pretoria - A Pretoria-based journalist Frans Sello Machate claims he was severely assaulted in front of his wife and young children inside his house at around 2am after members of the South African Police Service and Tshwane Metro Police Department broke down a palisade wall, security gates and doors.
Machate left the National Press Club discussion event held in Centurion, and headed to his home in Equestria, east of Pretoria. He said on the way home, he noticed an unmarked Ford Figo following him.
"It was after midnight and I noticed that whenever I turned, that car also turned. I drove past my house, and made a turn. The car was no longer following me, and I drove into my yard. As I was preparing to sleep, my wife and I heard noises outside our house. Those people started breaking the precast wall, the security gates and the doors. I immediately called the SAPS' 10111 number to seek help," Machate narrated to African News Agency as he was released from police holding cells.
"I brought all my children into my bedroom. About 15 police officers stormed my bedroom after kicking down the bedroom door as well. Inside, they quickly handcuffed me from behind and started ransacking the house. They were pointing firearms at us and my wife and children were crying."
Machate said his office space in the house was also ransacked, with mobile phones and video cameras "thrown around".
"When they took me outside the house, a member of the Tshwane Metro Police hit my head with his metal torch, and I started bleeding. My scalp broke and they had to take me to [Steve Biko Academic] hospital so that I get stitched. We left the hospital at around 5am this morning. They have charged me and released me."
Machate was charged with reckless and negligent driving, drunk driving, and assaulting a police officer.
"How can I assault someone when I was handcuffed. Actually, when we got to this Silverton police station, they put me in a room. In there, four police officers started kicking me all over [the body] while I was handcuffed at the back. I have been handcuffed so tight throughout, and there are marks on my hands," he said.
Sources, however, told African News Agency that a charge of attempted murder has also been added to the docket, as police officers claim Machate tried to kill them by swerving his car as they were trying to stop him on the road.
Machate's wife, Tintswalo, showed reporters the blood spilt on the pavement at the house as her husband was bundled away by police.
"The kids are traumatised because everything happened in front of them. The 13-year-old's eyes were swollen when he left for school. He had to walk to the school all by himself because I had to care for his four-year-old and the two-months siblings," she said.
"The four-year-old has been saying he will grow up and stand up for his daddy. He keeps on repeating what happened. I'm trying to arrange some counselling for the two elder brothers. I'm shaken and traumatised. I couldn't sleep because the door and the burglar gate were damaged so I couldn't sleep with an open door."
Tintswalo said during the melee, she was also roughed up by the police.
"One guy pushed me from the passage screaming that I must open the garage," she said.
Tshwane Metro Police Department's spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba, who is handling the matter on behalf of SAPS and TMPD, said the matter of Machate's complaint, and the police officers' claims will be thoroughly investigated.
"The investigation is ongoing. We can mention that the matter will be referred to IPID for further investigation. At this stage, we are not going to say much. All we would like to comment is that we are aware of this particular case, and the matter is being investigated further internally in the Metro Police, at IPID and criminally the matter is being followed up or investigated," he said.
The Education for Social Justice Foundation issued a statement on Wednesday, condemning the police's action.
"We are concerned about the high levels of police brutality against innocent people. We hope that IPID will prioritise the case opened by Mr Frans Machate, so that police in the country can get a clear message that the days of police brutality are over," said deputy chairperson Hendrick Makaneta.
African News Agency (ANA)