Thursday, 15 November 2007

JHB Metro: "To serve, protect" and arrest

Hold onto your seats this is a long one...

A friend of mine was arrested yesterday, see the link for turning left in an area of the road where she should have used the slip road. She said she had indicated left up till the end of the road and no one let her in so she simply went forward and indicated to turn left once the traffic light had turned green and it was clear of no other vehicles. Once she had done so a Metro cop stopped her and told her she was under arrest! Yet surprise, surprise could not tell her what she was arrested for.

This is frightening for many reasons but mostly because, a more law-abiding citizen you would not find!

She was arrested at 6.50am [thrown into the back of the metro police 4 x 4] and was only released last night after 9pm…to appear in court at 8.30am this morning to be told at 11pm by the Prosecutor that all 17 charges have been thrown out!

Her experience is horrific to say the least. 17 People altogether were arrested and they were humiliated in every way possible from things like:
• Getting thrown into a cell with real criminals (not to mention puppy size rats).
• Police were totally disorganized, arguing with each other completing the documentation incorrectly etc.
• Doing things like full body searches, for what?
• Laughing at them and saying things like 'you people just think you can pay your fines and get away with it, we are going to teach you a lesson’??
• One cop even said 'you are lucky you are in a group as we would have tortured you if you were on your own'.
• They were not offered food and drink from 7am-9pm. Is that what we call dignified, humane, democratic treatment..?
Ironically, not once in the whole ordeal did anyone ask to see her ID/license? What bothered me the most about her story is the horrific power trips and revolting bully behaviour of the police and how we as civilians can be treated like hardened criminals and these so called ‘protectors’ get away with it.

Is this what we are going to accept as the norm in this country? I feel more afraid of the police now than ever before…

Some of these people are now laying a civil claim, but why should this kind of thing happen in a country that already has such limited policing resources? It almost feels like the police targeting regular people to make an example…? We are sitting ducks and the poor are in a worse situation I am sure. Some of these people are now so traumatized they have to seek physiological help. Sadly those that could not afford a lawyer had to stay longer... Why should people have to spend money fighting the country’s public servants for insignificant things, when it is really real crime and HIV/AIDS we should all be fighting together.

Surely police resources would be well spent actually catching people that are harming others? It is interesting though when you hear of how the police seem to try and cover their tracks when the journalists arrive and how they try and change the story making up what the charge is... like not wearing seatbelts which is a total lie.
To me, when I hear things like this it sounds like we are a lost and lawless society where civilians are not protected from their own police force.. is this sounding familiar to anyone?

It is really depressing and we need to stop this apparent God complex happening within the Metro police [they are clearly doing nothing to help their PR] they also need to remember that they are really servants of the country. I am also tired of hearing that this is an 'isolated incident', how many of those do you need before you have a state if emergency??
No person deserves the kind of treatment these people got, that could have been your wife [with your children], daughter, son, mother or father.

It’s so sad that these kinds of incidents give the country such a bad name. Good luck to us all for 2010 arrives…. Can you just imagine it? Lets hope we have our act together by then and the Metro police are actually protecting and not arresting civilians for ridiculous things. I agree that we need law on the roads but come on! Lets have some balanced policing 2!

[UPDATE: This morning 16/11/07 I heard 702 talking to one of the senior JHB Metro people about this 'incident'. As someone listening from the outside I agree with zero tolerance see my post its a looooong road BUT from the outside the 'operation' looks 'clean' and organised and it was far from that. I simply don't agree with the inhumane way these people were treated- only when experienced by someone you know do you realise the extent of the treatment. If you also checked out the reason that some of these people where arrested you would in this case - the cops themselves didn't know - wrong place, wrong time. There was no driving on a white/yellow line here! Excessive in my opinion and totally unacceptable. This round up and arrest strategy is not at all democratic and ruins peoples lives. I hope the Human Rights people do an investigation on this one and then 702 can bring that Metro okie back for another round.!]


Jax said...

When I hear stories like this and I have been hearing them more frequently it makes feel so unsafe!

All I hear and see of the cops is 10 out of tomes absolutely revoulting!!!!! There definitely is a God complex that they are carrying around and endangering all SA's with. I am so tired of feeling scared to walk or drive out of my house - if you cant even trust the cops who can you trust! Enough is enough - does the average person have to become a vigilante to protect themselves??????

When will our voice be heard!!!!!!!!!

Zani said...

Very scary. 2010 is going to be a big challange.

Animals on a power trip! They should maybe focus on their buddies driving mini bus taxi's.

Graeme said...

"When will our voice be heard" ? We have no voice. Part of that is that we don't carry the right colour membership card. More importantly, it's not in our nature to toyi-toyi, to make our presence felt on the streets or to participate in civil dis-obedience. A large portion of the blame in issues of this nature lies with us. The solution lies within ourselves.

Colin said...

It starts at the top. When, with total impunity, the Police Commissioner gets away with what is alleged against him( where theres smoke there's fire - any one remember Connie Mulder or even Willam Jefferson Clinton)and the Minister of Health (Ha - there's a misnomer if every there was one)is complicit in deaths of the very citizens she has sworn to respect and look after what do you expect from those further down the Food Chain?
Roosevelt is famous for saying(amongst other utterances) - 'the only thing we have to fear is fear itself'. Unfortunatly perhaps those sworn to protect us are now representative of that Fear - When you reference field as an individual is limited (ie life experience of others) and your excuses can be mulitplied and exaggerated to suit the occasion ('apartheid made me like this' is a good one these days)coupled with no control or accountability for your actions (read Kebble, Selebi, Tshabalala,striking council workers, even Mbeki) something has got to give.

Often it is the basics of decency and humanity. Rwanda springs to mind, never mind Zimbabwe.

I will support any attempt to emulate the William Braddock famous "Broken Window' theory much touted by Rudy Guilliani. Read the Book 'Leadership' in which RG covers himself in so much Glory I'm surprised he found air to breath. However my support will only be sustained when this approach (and I would imagine this Vehicular Stalinist strategy is that)when the concept is well thought out(obviously not), fair (not sure of that one), sustained (important) and equally distributed (very important). If I am caught drunk while in command of a vehicle then throw the book at me by all means. But then apply that same punishment and viciously authoritarian response (as seen now)that to someone in control of a unroadworthy vehicle travelling at 180 KPH, or a passenger service vehicle, complete with 15 (or more) passengers with a Vice grips as a steering wheel - or to Child molesters perhaps! Unfortunately the list is endless.

Kirsty and the other 16 that we know of - I am hesitant to cast South Africa as a despot state (watch SKY or CNN to see how Democracys fritter away their Forefathers hard fought gains) but this sort of thoughless action (I can't even be bothered to be creative with a name for this)action is irresponsible and cowardly and certainly does not bode well.

Perhaps we should fear not for 2010when the worlds eyes are on us but for August 2010 when they are no longer.
I would imagine that many Chinese Democracy protesters have a similar Diary entry for October 2008 - 'Olympics over - Shit..."

Jon Dare said...

unfortunately going onto news24 and seeing the comments from plonkers who agree with cops makes me relise how many idiots are out there! The point had nothing to do with the traffic offence but the lack of human rights after that!! That the police can laugh at and ignore a court order from the pretoria high court to release them is scary! the only way we could get them out was for the Judge to then subpoena the police captain and commissioner of randburg concentration camp! he wanted THEM arrested immediately for contempt of court!I was there I know!!! to abuse people in the way that these poor people were is disgusting and Wayne Minaar is the most disgusting at the top of the scum pile called metro police! I hope all those do gooders have a loved one arrested and treated the same way and have the feeling of total helplessness that we had! Democracy???? bullshit! Police state....yes! When the Judges of the country have no respect from the police force then we know we are in shit!!!

Paul said...

Jeez! There was an order by the Pretoria High Court that those people be released and the police ignored the order? We are in hotter water than I thought!

Dee said...

Democracy? This smacks of a police state. Do these people know or understand what a civil servant is and who pays their salaries ... and no, the public whom they have sworn to serve and protect (ha) dont decide how much they get paid, that is decided by other civil servants higher up the food chain.

I am all for zero tollerance... zero tollerance of murder, rape, child molestation, robery, hijacking, bribery and corruption as well breaking the law on the roads, however the law must apply to everyone equally, with no exceptions.

What I have zero tollerance for is ignorance in your work - these people didnt even know what Kirsty had done wrong but arrested her anyway (how on earth did you get the job in the first place - If I didnt know what I was doing in my job I would be fired). Maybe being a petite blond woman driving a decent car had something to do with it - easy target to bully, cant fight back physically and has the money to pay bail. I dont know who the other people were but I will lay odds that there were no tow truck drivers (I dont have anything against them but they do band together when there is trouble - not a bad thing in my book), no well built men who could be a physical challenge if arrested on a whim. Makes you think doesn't it?

South Africa are being laughed at for many reasons, we really can't afford to give first world countries any more ammunition for ridicule. Some SA citizens travel overseas and we are tired of hanging our heads in shame and trying to explain why our hardened criminals can vote but our ordinary citizens don't receive the health treatments they are entitled to.

I fought hard for democracy and human rights for all in South Africa. Is the result of that fight just to exchange one corrupt government with a God complex for another. Please show me it is not so.

Graeme said...

It seems that there is a unity of thought in the understanding of the situation, the ineptitude of the "guys-in-charge". The question is waht are we going to do about it. We can continue to email those who are as like-minded as ourselves continuing to criticise or we can try to make a difference. I don't think the former will get us any further than we are today, paranoid about our environment,or, we can do something about it. I don't know what that is but there must be something.

Richard Catto said...

Cops are arseholes, generally.

They like to talk a lot of trash to people they have arrested.

They are all about taunting their prisoners.

It's how they get their kicks.

Kirsty said...

Thanks Candice for supporting & sharing my scary experience.I was in no state to do so myself last week! Refelcting back I am shocked at how Mr Minaar has justified their actions. I am not sure that he has took the time to investigate what his team had charged us with - well funny we were only told 30 mins before being released (14hrs of not knowing - hey did Mandela fight for our constitutional rights!?) I still have the piece of paper stating our constitutional rights we signed at 9.10am on that Wednesday rolled up, which I kept reading on that day & night thinking that I once honestly believed we had rights! I kept thinking it was a nightmare.(especially when a court order from the supreme court of Pretoria demanding our immediate release was laughed at and discarded by the Police!)
After more than 24hrs of emotional torture the case was thrown out on the grounds that our K53 intructors were not qualified. I was in the direct line of the Prosecutor when he told us and found it difficult to keep my mouth closed but when you have no 'power' you revert to silence and at that point I just wanted it over.
Mr Minaar's leadership has no credibility & his 'agenda' is to be questioned.Especially after questioning him why his staff were standing idle on the Thursday morning and not arresting taxi drivers that were driving the same way I was the day before - his pathetic comment 'they are not arresting today'! Zero tollerence - is this the SA way!?
A civil case is being opened & I will ensure that my voice is heard - not just for me but for any other South African that has had to endure such undignified and inhumane treatment!
PS I support a 'zero tollerence approach' but Mr Minaar get your house in order first!