A Kimberley based couple have stated their intention to sue the police and Police Minister Bheki Cele after they were allegedly assaulted by four policemen whom they claim were reeking of alcohol during the incident in question.
According to a report published by City Press, a man named Khutjo Sekwaila and his five-month pregnant wife were chased down and assaulted by police while making their way to his graduation at the University of Zululand.
The publication cites a statement submitted at the Kimberley police station which details how Sekwaila and his wife were driving along when they were approached by an unmarked police car carrying four gun-wielding officers on the N2 highway in northern KwaZulu-Natal who signalled them to pull over.
Sekwaila said he ignored the car’s flashing bright lights because he thought it was simply people trying to overtake him.
“After which they then came to the side again and this time tried to ram us off the road. I avoided the car and then switched on the hazards lights. They then came back to the side switched on the lights inside the bakkie and put up a gun [that resembles an AK47].
“At this point my wife was hysterical and I instructed her to call 10111 [at 10.47pm]. She told the operator there was an unmarked vehicle with registration No. BVG 570 B chasing after us. It didn’t have any police markings and they’re pointing guns and we’re too scared to stop. She asked the operator if they could dispatch a vehicle to come to our aid.
“The call was cut off but we were then called back from a landline [at 10.50pm]. We suspected it could be hijacking and as a result, I tried navigating to the nearest police station instead of stopping in the middle of a dark area at that time of the night, for our own safety.”
They caught up with him in the parking lot of the Richards Bay police station where they followed him inside as he walked in with his hands up.
“Constable Mthethwa [as I found out later] grabbed me by the neck said ‘ucabanga khuthi uBheki Cele’ (you think you are Bheki Cele). He was joined by a Constable Mkize and Constable Ndlovu in slapping and beating me. I managed to get into the CSC [Client Service Centre] counter where we found three officers inside working behind the counter. I put my hands up but the officers from the unmarked vehicle then followed me and started manhandling me again.
“None of the officers behind the counter moved or said anything; they just looked at the assault while it happened. I then saw the fourth officer, Constable Ndlovu [Sakhile] slap my wife as he tried to aggressively take my cellphone from her. This all happened inside the station in full view of the other three officers that we found inside the station.”
The publication is in possession of a video of the incident in question which shows officers manhandling Sekwaila. The video has been widely shared on social media and is not for sensitive viewers.
The video, which was reportedly broadcast live on Sekwaila’s wife’s Facebook account was ended abruptly after an officer assaulted her. The video ends with obscured visuals and her screams.
According to City Press, the couple has since reported the matter to Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
In both their statements, the couple allege that they were arrested, the wife’s cellphone was confiscated and the officers attempted to delete the video footage of the assault. Sekwaila’s wife refused to give them access to the password-protected device.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker confirmed that a case had been opened by the couple in Kimberley and it was registered and transferred to Richards Bay, where the alleged incident took place.
“The docket will be transferred to Ipid for investigation as the allegations are against police officers. The complainants in this matter were arrested on drunk driving and other charges. Further questions regarding this matter should be referred to Ipid once they have received the docket,” he added.
At the time of writing, Ipid had not yet received the complaint according to their spokesperson Moses Dlamini but would be following up the matter with the police. Attempts to contact Dlamini by the Citizen were unsuccessful.