Two Dunoon residents have laid charges of assault against Milnerton police officers who they accuse of pepper-spraying them in the face, punching them, and using “excessive force” to arrest them for no apparent reason.
The two residents have no idea what crime they are supposed to have committed.
The showdown took place on Monday, 8 January, in Waxberry Street, Dunoon, Milnerton.
Lwandile Jezile, 31, was driving from work along Usasadza Street when he saw another motorist driving along with a flat tyre. He slowed down to alert the other motorist.
As he turned into Waxberry Street on his way to his home in New Rest informal settlement, a marked police van behind him sped past, and then blocked his way. Suddenly, says Jezile, a police officer leaned out of the car window and pepper-sprayed him in the face, without saying a word. Then the police van drove off.
Jezile left his car in the street and went to a nearby shack to ask for water to rinse his eyes.
The owner of the shack, Esethu Mnqathe, 27, witnessed the incident.
Mnqathe said that Jezile asked him for a lift to the Dunoon Community Health Centre to seek medical attention, and then to the Milnerton Police station, to open a case of assault.
Instead, Mnqathe asked Jezile if he had the police’s van registration number. When Jezile said he did not, Mnqathe suggested that they find the police van, and take pictures.
With Mnqathe driving Jezile’s car, they found the police van and stopped about 20 metres away to take pictures and capture the registration number. They checked the pictures and then Mnqathe started reversing the car, as the gravel road leading to the new New Rest informal settlement is too narrow for a three-point turn.
The police van followed and then blocked their way. Then the showdown began.
Jezile said the cops went straight to him, pepper-sprayed him in the face again, pulled him out of the car and started punching, kicking, and stamping on him.
When Mnqathe asked what crime Jezile had committed, the cops attacked him as well, pepper-sprayed him, and slapped him in the face.
Meanwhile two more police vans had arrived, said Mnqathe.
All four cops then joined in the punching of Jezile and Mnqathe, then pushed them into the back of a police van and pepper-sprayed the inside of the van before locking it.
At the Milnerton police station, Jezile said that several police officers were standing outside waiting.
He said that he and Mnqathe were dragged out of the van and into the police station.
At the police station the beating, punching, and kicking continued, he said.
He showed GroundUp marks he said were sustained from the assault.
Both men were detained in the Milnerton police holding cells overnight and were released on Tuesday, 9 January, after paying R500 police bail.
On Jezile’s bail form, seen by GroundUp, the police indicated that Jezile’s offence was assault, and defeating the ends of justice.
His case was to be heard in the Cape Town Magistrates’ court on Wednesday, 10 January. But the case never saw the light of day. The bail form which describes the charge, and the amount paid, had written on it: “nolle prosequi”, a Latin phrase which means “we shall no longer prosecute”. It was stamped with the court’s stamp.
“When I see the cops’ flashing blue light or hear their wailing sirens I feel angry and scared. I want justice to take its course,” said Jezile.
Mnqathe said that he had been left humiliated and his reputation had been destroyed.
“My dignity is finished. My neighbours don’t respect us after they saw the police beating us and shoving us into their van. They don’t know we did nothing wrong. I now have hatred for the police,” he said.
GroundUp sought comment from the Milnerton police station. The station’s acting spokesperson, Captain Adriana Chandler, said: “This office can confirm that a case has been registered. The complainant’s case was sent to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for further investigation. The investigation is under judicial consideration and therefore prohibited from public discussion (sub judice).”
The police also refused to provide GroundUp with the names of the officers involved.
This article was originally published on GroundUp.