Showing the scars on his wrists allegedly caused by handcuffs, pointing to a mark next to his nose following a blow to the face, severe headaches, chest pain and pain in his left arm are indicators of an incident which local taxi driver Stephan Hopane is still struggling to come to terms with after he was allegedly assaulted by a law enforcement officer of the Polokwane Municipality in the city on 9 March.
This led to a charge of common assault being laid against the alleged assaulter that reportedly occurred on duty during a clean-up operation in the city.
Provincial Police Spokesperson Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed that a case has been opened and that the municipal employee has been arrested after the case was reported to the Police. He added that he has already appeared in the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court and was released on warning to appear in the same court again on 15 April.
According to Hopane he parked his minibus taxi in Devenish Street on 9 March to go to a nearby shop. It was the same day that Police and members of the municipality cleaned up the city by demolishing illegal vendor stands, according to Hopone.
When Hopane returned he found two female traffic officers at his taxi busy issuing a fine. A male officer approached and asked the women why they were writing a fine for the taxi. “I said to him don’t worry, they are just doing their job and they astonishingly replied that I must stop with my nonsense. Then the male officer hit me on the chest and I subsequently pushed him back,” Hopone said.
After an argument Hopane allegedly went to the Polokwane Police Station to report the matter, leaving his taxi behind. “While at the Police station I received a call from a taxi marshal informing me that they want to impound my taxi and I ran back to the scene. As I arrived they handcuffed me and loaded me onto the back seat of a municipal traffic vehicle,” Hopane said, adding that this was where the alleged assault started as he was seemingly slapped in the face several times. He was taken back to the charge office of the Polokwane Police Station and he asked to call his lawyer.
“They did not loosen the handcuffs and my cell phone was placed on my shoulder. While I was still on the phone a female officer grabbed the phone and slammed it on the table. I just felt a blow to the head and fell to the floor semi-conscious. I could feel how I was being kicked in the face,” Hopane indicated.
He later on woke up and was taken to the holding cells. He asked the officers about R1 660 that was in his pocket and got no reply. His smart phone has also been missing since.
Later the day (Monday) his mother brought him food in the cells and on Tuesday he did not eat and was also not allowed to shower. A officer later arrived and allegedly told him it is because he is stubborn that he will only be charged so late and will have to remain in the cells.
At 15:30 Hopane was taken to court only to be told that there is no charge against him and that he is free to go.
After being released Hopane went to the Police station to open a case against the officer but he was allegedly told to sort the matter with the municipality. He then went to Buite Clinic as he was experiencing severe headaches and referred to Polokwane Provincial Hospital where he was admitted for observation.
Hopane was discharged from hospital on Thursday and immediately met with the Polokwane Station Commander who assisted him in opening a case against the law enforcement officer.
“I was eventually assisted but I am still not satisfied. I have since then not heard anything from the investigating officer. I have to sit and wonder while I am still experiencing headaches, chest pains and pain in my left arm. I hope that justice will be served,” Hopane said.
Story: RC Myburgh