Tshwane Metro police to probe alleged xenophobic attack on doctor and wife in Pretoria
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Pretoria – The Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) on Tuesday said it will request the docket from the South African Police Service (SAPS) in a bid to investigate the circumstances around the alleged assault of renowned South African pulmonologist Dr Emmanuel Taban, of South Sudanese origin, and his wife, a Pretoria physiotherapist.
“The Dr alleges that he was assaulted on Saturday, but he only went to the SAPS to open a case yesterday [Monday]. The TMPD will request a copy of the docket from the SAPS in order to obtain facts of what transpired on the day and conduct our investigation internally,” said TMPD spokesperson, Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba.
He said the implicated TMPD officers were still at work.
On Monday, the South African Medical Association (Sama) said it was shocked and appalled at an apparent xenophobic attack on Taban and his wife in Tshwane.
The alleged assault happened on Saturday night while Taban and his wife were on their way to the Midstream Mediclinic where they work.
Both Taban and his wife have been involved in treating patients with Covid-19.
Taban said he passed a truck on the R54 when he was stopped by the unidentified officers. He was told he was being arrested for passing a vehicle on a solid white line and driving recklessly.
An altercation ensued during which Taban says he was manhandled, throttled, and he and his wife sworn at before they were taken to the Lyttelton Police Station. Taban says the officers hurled abusive language at them about to his ethnicity, among others.
“This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and inexcusable. If someone has broken the law then deal with them, but be professional. To have a situation such as this escalate into a xenophobic onslaught is certainly not professional.
"To have a woman involved in a physical altercation with police officers also does little to re-inforce the president’s message of dealing with gender-based violence. This entire situation is appalling and needs close inspection," Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said.
Coetzee says Taban is a Sama member and is well known for his professionalism and willingness to always help colleagues and patients.
“We cannot have a situation where a doctor who is on his way to assist patients in dire need of care is treated in this way. The TMPD should have handled this situation completely differently with a view to ensuring both his, his wife’s and other people’s safety.
"Instead it appears that they acted in a heavy-handed manner simply because of Dr Taban’s ethnicity. This entire incident is actually unbelievable,” Coetzee said.
In addition to providing assistance to Taban, SAMA has called on the TMPD and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to investigate this matter speedily, and to bring any officers guilty of contravening the regulations of their department to book.