Video captures cops beating up hawker

29 April 2012 - 02:20 By ISAAC MAHLANGU
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A SHOCKING video showing four uniformed members of the Johannesburg Metro Police punching, kicking and stamping on a hawker has sparked an internal probe.

The beating comes in the week when the organisation Corruption Watch released a damning report on the extent of bribery in the country's biggest metro police department - stating that one in four Johannesburg drivers has paid a bribe to a traffic officer.

The attack left hawker Andries Ndlovu, 37, with a swollen face and injuries to his body, arms and legs. He was assaulted in Ivory Park, near Midrand, last Friday - apparently after he tried to stop the policemen from beating a 60-year-old man.

Johannesburg Metro Police spokesman, Wayne Minnaar, has asked the Sunday Times to give their internal affairs unit a copy of the video so that the officers can be identified and disciplinary action taken.

The 22-second cellphone video, recorded by a bystander, shows the officers kicking and stamping on Ndlovu after he had fallen down.

Two other officers, a male and a female, are then seen rushing to the scene and trying to restrain their colleagues.

Minnaar, who was shown the video, said: "We can clearly see officers trampling on the civilian. They are not allowed to trample on a civilian."

The officers also allegedly assaulted a 60-year-old welder, Joseph Khumalo, who is recovering in Tembisa Hospital.

Khumalo sold window frames, among other things, that were impounded by the officers without giving him a receipt or a notice.

When he demanded paperwork, they started punching and kicking him.

Khumalo suffered head injuries and sustained a broken finger, a broken arm and a broken leg.

His sons, Ananias and Michael Khumalo, said they were also assaulted during the incident, which lasted about 30 minutes. Michael's car, a white VW Golf, was impounded and no reasons were given.

When he contacted the police pound in Johannesburg on Wednesday, he was told his car was not there. But on Thursday - a day after the Sunday Times started making inquiries about the incident - he found his car at the pound.

Hawker Ndlovu said: "I asked the police officers why they were beating up an old man [Khumalo] like that. One officer just responded with two punches to my face."

Ndlovu admitted that he then "threw a fist" at the officer "to defend myself".

Minnaar confirmed that their officers had conducted an operation in Ivory Park targeting by-law infringements by informal traders.

"Street traders started throwing stones at our officers and, in the process, breaking two windows of a [police] truck and a minibus," Minnaar said.

But hawkers trading along Ivory Park's Umnotho Drive claimed that metro police officers "had always" visited their trading spots soliciting bribes.

"If you don't have the bribe, your goods get impounded," said a man selling wardrobes and kitchen units.

He added: "If this is really about contravening by-laws, why are the metro police not going for the mamas that sell vegetables and fruit? They know very well that fruit and vegetables don't bring in much money - hence they target us."

Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini said: "Police are there to serve and protect. We should be very concerned that they behave like criminals. All relevant details must be provided to us so that we can launch an investigation and the responsible police officers be made to account."

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