File picture: Independent Media

Upington - A pastor intends suing the police for R6 million after he claimed he was manhandled and thrown into a police van for no reason. All this happened in the presence of his children and congregants in Paballelo, Upington, and he has opened a case of assault common against the police officials.

Pastor Ronnie Lumkile Mjethu, from the Ethiopian Church of South Africa, said that he was caught in the middle of an altercation that erupted between a neighbour and his sister earlier this week.

“The children were playing in the street and their ball bounced into the neighbour’s yard. She came out and allegedly slapped one of the children. That is when my sister became involved in an argument with her.”

According to Mjethu, members of the Public Order Police were called out to the scene.

“I cannot understand why the riot police were called out for a group of children, including my son, who were playing in the street in Lover’s Lane.

“I was trying to tell the children to apologise to the neighbour when a large contingent of police officers arrived. I accidentally touched the chest of one of the police officers when orders were issued that I should be loaded into the van.”

Mjethu claimed that five police officers shoved him into the vehicle and he injured his eye, arm and back. He was then taken to the police station.

“I still do not feel well after the incident. The inhumane treatment I received took me back to the apartheid-era style of policing. The SAPS members did not want to listen to my explanation and, because I was scared out of my wits, I offered an apology when we arrived at the police station. However, they continued to taunt me.”

No charges were laid against Mjethu and he stated that the police also refused to make an entry in the register that he had injured himself during the incident.

“I am a well respected citizen of good standing, but was humiliated in front of my children and community members. I do not feel capable of preaching at church for a while because of what happened to me, even though I was not guilty of any wrongdoing. I also cancelled all my meetings this week as I do not feel spiritually capable of fulfilling my duties and responsibilities.”

Mjethu said that family members had to prevent his 13-year-old son from chasing after the police.

“He was angry at the manner in which I was treated. My daughter said that she is now afraid of the police and hates them. How are we supposed to trust law enforcement authorities who are intimidating us like thugs, instead of protecting us?”

Police spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, confirmed that the Paballelo police were investigating a case of assault common.

“The case has been brought to the attention of the police and is currently under investigation.”

He also confirmed that no charges had been laid against the pastor.

Diamond Fields Advertiser