Penny Fourie
3 minute read
26 May 2020
8:13 pm

Gerrie Nel goes after municipality in KZN over ‘child manhandling’ in lockdown arrest

Penny Fourie

After a municipal investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing, civil rights organisation AfriForum has stepped forward to represent the family legally.

Head of AfriForum's private prosecution Adv. Gerrie Nel during a press briefing at Afriforum's head office in Lyttleton, 19 December 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Head of AfriForum’s private prosecutions unit Gerrie Nel is asking the KwaDukuza municipality hard questions about their investigation that exonerated KDM peace officers from any wrongdoing in a controversial altercation involving a child at Chaka’s Rock, reports the North Coast Courier.

The incident, which was captured on video, received widespread coverage amid furious condemnation of the behaviour of the arresting officers.

Footage showed the officers allegedly trying to drag a screaming four-year-old child out of a complex while his father tries to pull him from them.

The officers arrived at the complex to arrest the father of the toddler and several other families for allegedly failing to comply with lockdown regulations.

After a municipal investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing, civil rights organisation AfriForum stepped forward to represent the group legally.

In a four-page letter to the acting mayor, Cllr Dolly Govender, Nel asked for full disclosure of the investigation, including written statements and oral transcripts made by the officials and other witnesses that KDM relied on.

“Your public condonation of not only what your officials did but also how it was done leaves us flabbergasted. Must we accept that your condonation of the official’s behaviour finds reliance on a flawed investigation which, if you are called out on, your office would not shy away from us publishing how you opportunely derived contentment of your officials conduct,” Nel said.

He also placed on record that none of the people arrested were consulted or requested to provide their version of the events that led to their arrest and detainment on May 10.

“Can we accept that the officials provided affidavits regarding the contraventions by every one of the 11 people?”.

KDM’s investigation denied claims of the officers “manhandling” the child and concluded that the officers handled the child in line with the mandate of the Child Protection Act.

Nel said: “In his media release Mr Mkhize ‘confirms’ that the child was handled in terms of the ‘Child Act’. This confirmation begs the question if it is based solely on the officials’ version?

“Further, was the content of the video analysed and further relevant evidence gathered? In this regard kindly provide us with the specific version of the official as to his intention of complying with the ‘Child Act” with his actions,” Nel asked.

Nel also questioned the officials’ failure in complying with lockdown regulations and not wearing masks.

“Notably your officials failed to wear face masks in circumstances where they dealt with the public. Do you consider the absence of wearing a face mask in the public unlawful conduct? If not, can we accept that you also condone this?

“Is it important to you that your municipal officials comply with the regulations in as far as social distancing and sanitation are concerned? In this regard do you condone the number of people transported per vehicle to the police station by your officials?”

KDM’s findings were supported by the municipal union, who called the public reactions to the incident unfounded and misguided.

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