The Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) on Friday appealed to community members with evidence of criminal activity or abuse of power by their officers to come forward with the proof.
This followed a fracas on Thursday night in the Pretoria city centre, where a crowd chased TMPD officers into the Pretoria central police station, accusing the law enforcement officers of robbing a Tanzanian man, identified only as Frank, of R2 000. One of the officers fired his gun to fend off the pursuing crowd.
However, TMPD spokesperson Isaac Mahamba said on Thursday night the officers had come under attack after arresting suspected drug dealers.
“As the department, we are aware of the incident that took place last night next to the Pretoria central police station. What happened is that our members received a tip-off about drugs that were being sold in that area and went there. They arrested two non-South African males for possession and dealing with drugs, but as soon as they left the area they were attacked by a group of people that were gathering outside the shop,” said Mahamba.
“Bottles were thrown at them, and our members noticed that their lives were in danger. They fired a warning shot and the suspects managed to flee and could not be arrested.”
But shopowners and bystanders adjacent to the police station were singing a different tune.
Ahmed Watafyi said he witnessed the TMPD officers, in civilian clothes and with handguns, searching Frank and taking money from his shorts, before community members chided the law enforcement for the “daylight robbery”.
“I am here every day of the week and we see similar events every day. When police officers are hungry, they come and hustle up these people. These people are the police’s free lunch. It’s daylight robbery. How come there are no arrests? The police don’t arrest these men but just seize whatever is in their pockets,” said Watafyi.
The man who had allegedly been robbed by the officers, Frank, was left fuming outside the police station.
“I didn’t do anything wrong, otherwise they would have taken me into the police station. My only offence was having cash in my pocket. I am not leaving without my money,” he said.
When Frank walked into the police station, apparently to demand his money from the TMPD officers, he was quickly arrested and whisked towards the holding cells, still screaming for his R2,000.