DURBAN - THE police did not stop a fuel picket on the M4 Ruth First Highway in Durban North because the acting provincial commissioner was stuck in traffic, but because it was illegal, the police said on Friday.
Visvin Reddy, the national convener for the People Against Petrol and Paraffin Price Increases (Papppi), told the Sunday Tribune the police stopped the picket because KZN’s top cop Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi had been stuck in traffic.
“We were told that the provincial commissioner was caught up in traffic, and a colonel came to get the traffic to move. He then said we were not supposed to be protesting. After a scuffle, our deputy national convener, Bishop Timothy Ngcobo, a pastor and former policeman was arrested,” said Reddy.
Provincial police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala disputed the allegations by Papppi and said Mkhwanazi was out of town.
“The acting provincial commissioner is in Pretoria since yesterday (Thursday),” said Gwala.
Earlier, metro police spokesperson Parboo Sewpersad told the Daily News that the protest by the group was illegal as they had not made a formal application to stage it.
Police have charged Ngcobo, the Papppi chairpreson, with public violence.
“This morning at 7am, Durban North police attended to a complaint of a group of 50 people who were obstructing the M4 freeway with banners and other things. The police told them to disperse but they refused and became violent. One of the group members pushed a police officer and was arrested for public violence. He will appear in court soon,” said Gwala.
Reddy defended Ngcobo and said they had footage which allegedly showed they were allegedly under attack from the police.
“The colonel said he was going to charge Timothy with assault but we said we have video footage to show that it was the police who were attacking us. Timothy did not provoke anyone.
He then changed the charge, and we questioned why he hadn’t arrested all of us,” said Reddy.