A trip to a Pietermaritzburg mall ended in a traumatic experience for a Mountain Rise police officer and his family.
They were returning from a local mall when they were pulled over at a roadblock in Imbali Unit 2 after the Slangspruit Bridge on Friday evening.
Sergeant ST Madlala could only confirm that he was “roughed up” by police at a roadblock, but declined to comment on the matter, referring The Witness to the provincial police media desk as he had opened a case with them.
His wife, Deli Madlala, said the officers manning the roadblock were brought in from Gauteng to deal with the “rampant” criminal activities in the area.
She said what followed after they were pulled over came as a shock to both parents and their four- and 12-year-old children. She said the experience had exacerbated her asthmatic and sinus conditions, and that the entire family was traumatised.
“My husband drives a VW Polo and when these officers were brought in from Gauteng there were a lot of criminal activities committed by people driving this type of vehicle, while some owners of the same brand were victims of hijackings.
“As my husband stepped out of the car I was also instructed by a policewoman to get out too. I could hear my husband trying to plead with them not to do something that will traumatise the children and that’s when they threw him on the ground and started assaulting him,” she said.
While this was happening, the officers attending to her attempted to force her children to the ground and when she pleaded with them not to do that, they pepper sprayed her.
“What does a four-year-old know that you would try to force her to the ground? Even my 12-year-old was badly affected because she just froze and was bending low, stretching her arms on her way down in submission to the instruction from all directions as these officers were all over our car.
“My face and eyes were burning and I had difficulty breathing.
“My eldest daughter, after the policewoman stopped her from lying on the ground, managed to take a short video with her phone where the police were kicking and pinning her father to the ground with their feet.
“She’s lucky that they did not see her doing that. These people were brought in here for a good cause, but now they have turned into thugs who have no regard for human dignity,” said Madlala.
She said there was no need for the officers to attack her husband for telling them not to do something that will traumatise his children, and for informing them that he, too, was a police officer.
According to Madlala, the officer did not search their car after the ordeal. “They just let us go. I don’t understand the purpose of behaving in that manner in the first place. They just exposed themselves as bullies who take advantage of vulnerable people,” she said.
Provincial police spokesperson Constable Thenjiswa Ngcobo said police-related inquiries are handled by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
Ipid national spokesperson Lizzy Suping said: “When a case gets registered with the police, it must be transferred or forwarded to Ipid, hence our investigators will follow up with the complainant because it is not yet registered with us.”