What appears to be a clear example of gross misconduct by certain members of the Tzaneen police force (more specifically the detective branch) has led to four local men now facing charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH). This after one of them attempted to rush to the aid of a stranger who was involved in a motor vehicle accident.
On Wednesday afternoon, Johan was sitting on his patio with his fiancé and his mother when they heard a vehicle speeding down the R71 near the entrance to Tzaneen. The sound was followed by two loud bangs which Johan recognized as the bursting of vehicle tyres.
In his police statement, he noted that he rushed down to the road to assist what he thought could have been injured occupants of the vehicle. Johan asked his fiancé to call for help in case it was an accident and ambulance service were needed.
He then jumped into his own vehicle and rushed towards where he last heard the sound. “Upon arrival at the scene, I noticed the vehicle standing in the left-hand lane of the carriageway facing Tzaneen. The driver was sitting in the middle of the road behind his vehicle,” said Johan in his statement. “I put on my vehicle’s hazards and from inside the cab I asked the gentleman if he was okay. He replied with “fuck off to where you came from you white shit!” and I realized that the man was visibly under the influence.”
Johan then helped the man up and seated him on the pavement alongside the road. He then said that he went to the man’s vehicle to make sure that it was secure (park break on and ignition switched off). When he turned around the man was allegedly back on his feet and moving towards him with his fists up.
Johan said he moved back to his vehicle to get away, but the man hit him against the back of his head.
“I asked him to move away and go back to the pavement until the help arrived, but he kept coming at me and so I hit him with my vehicle’s door. This pushed him to the ground, and I climbed into my vehicle. The man stood up and was extremely aggressive. He started hitting me again and tore off my shirt.”
A local security company arrived on scene, and the aggressive suspect allegedly jumped back into his damaged vehicle and attempted to run over two of the response guards. He then turned the vehicle on Johan who ran in behind a palm tree at the nearby Garden Centre.
The suspect then spun away in the direction of Tzaneen and Johan and the security patrol gave chase. Arriving at the man’s residence in town, a second local security company and a police van were waiting.
The man then allegedly drove into his yard and started pelting the vehicles of the security companies with bricks. Johan and a few of the witnesses said that initially a police officer who arrived on the scene, refused to arrest the man saying, “he is in his house.” The man was eventually detained by one of the security companies and loaded into the back of the police van and taken to the police station. The security officers and Johan followed.
Once at the police station, the suspect allegedly stated that he had never left his house and that the four men had come into his property and attacked him.
He also alleged that, his son was attacked with pepper spray. Johan and the security patrolmen all denied this. The police detective however seemed to take the side of the suspect.
It is alleged that the suspect gave his statement and lay charges of assault against all four the men which resulted in the police wanting to detain them. The suspect allegedly paid R1 000 bail and was sent home. They were all charged with two cases of assault GBH, and each man had to pay R1 000 bail.
The following day Bulletin met with the men at the Police station where they were requested to meet with the investigating officer and had to again write out their statements.
At the police station they were told by the police detective that they had to pay their bail or they would be locked up in the cells. The bail was paid and the men were placed in the police holding cells while it was being processed. They were set free approximately three hours later.
The owner of one of the private security companies was called into the police station this morning and also charged with two counts of Assault GBH related to this incident and let off on a warning. This unfortunate incident and the reaction by the members of the police, has severely strained the relationship between the local SAPS and all local private security companies. In solidarity with their comrades, the local private security organizations have all withdrawn their assistance and support from police patrols and activities including their participation at the roadblocks during the lock down and their presence on all WhatsApp groups.
“The conduct by the police officers in this investigation and on the night in question borders on corruption and I am definitely not going to leave this matter here. I have been accused of a serious crime because I tried to help a stranger. The stranger assaulted me, swore at me, crashed his vehicle while speeding and, in my opinion visibly under the influence of alcohol, tried to run me and a security officer over with his vehicle. He damaged two security vehicles by throwing bricks at them, and then lied in a sworn statement. Why am I being treated like a criminal when I only tried to help my fellow man?”
At the time of going to print investigations were continuing and all of the men involved in the incident have sought legal counsel. Bulletin has seen surveillance footage obtained from two businesses in the area of the incident on the afternoon in question. We also have photographs of Johan’s injuries sustained in the alleged assault. We have also been informed that the matter has been escalated to national level. More on this story as it unfolds.
*The name of the accused has been changed to protect him from further victimization.