Pretoria - Calls for disciplinary proceedings to be conducted externally have resurfaced after yet another motorist was allegedly assaulted and unlawfully arrested by Tshwane Metro Police Department officers during a stop in Centurion last week.
Unisa law Professor Andre Thomashausen was on his way home from having dinner with his wife and two German friends.
He said he had two glasses of wine, and his wife, who did not drink alcohol, was behind the wheel.
As they neared them, a police van tried to overtake them from the left lane, startling him and the other occupants. They were then signalled to stop with forceful hand gestures.
“Once we stopped, I inquired what the problem was, but was aggressively told to get out of the car.”
Thomashausen said his requests for the officers to produce any identification as they did not have any tags were ignored and he was told they did not have to show him anything.
In a bid to record what was happening, Thomashausen took out his phone. However, one of the officers tried to grab the phone, leading to an altercation. “I told him that he was not allowed to search my vehicle or take my phone forcefully. To this, he replied that he would teach me a lesson, while calling me ‘white racist’.
"I was pulled violently out of the car, and told I am being arrested for assaulting a police officer.”
Thomashausen was placed in a holding cell for the night and released on R500 payment by his legal counsel.
“My request to lay charges against the three officers for assault, crimen injuria, unlawful arrest and attempted kidnapping was denied on the grounds that the station at night was not fully staffed.”
MMC for Community Safety Karen Meyer said this was the second high-profile incident in recent months, and clearly indicative of a problem.
Last year the department made headlines following the arrest of a school teacher who did not stop because she felt unsafe.
“I also frequently receive complaints from members of the public and public representatives in Region 4, which includes Centurion and surrounding areas,” Meyer said.
“I have accordingly set up a meeting with the chief of police, Lieutenant-General Johanna Nkomo, and the Region 4 metro police management to discuss discipline, misconduct and consequence management.”
She said that an inquiry into the matter was under way, and statements from the metro police members were still to be obtained. “Following the finalisation of the preliminary inquiry, the office of the city manager must ensure any disciplinary proceedings emanating from it is conducted externally, independently and impartially.”
Meyer said this had to be done with all future cases. “Furthermore, capacity constraints and potential conflicts of interest hamper the effective, speedy and satisfactory conclusion of grievance and disciplinary procedures within the metro police.”
This includes a lack of prosecutors and presiding officers for disciplinary cases. These are investigated and dealt with internally by the department’s investigation unit.
“I have received, and continue to receive, numerous complaints regarding alleged police misconduct.”
Meyer said that in the overwhelming number of cases the complainants indicate they do not wish to pursue the complaint, they withdraw the complaint, or fail to co-operate with the investigation. This was because the complainants feared victimisation at the hands of the impugned officers because their personal details, including addresses, are provided on the affidavit accompanying complaints.
Meyer condemned lawlessness and harassment of motorists.