[intro]There were several instances of police heavy-handedness and brutality during the 10 day student protests that spread across the country. A University of Free State student relates her experience.[/intro]
A third year University of Free State journalism student has alleged that she was bundled into a minibus and assaulted by a police officer while she was covering a student protest in Bloemfontein last Thursday.
A shaken Nombuso Ndlanzi told The Journalist that she had lodged a complaint with the Independent Complaint’s Directorate (ICD).
She related her story, as follows:
“I arrived on campus in the morning of Thursday 22 October and students were engaged in a protest, as police watched. After a few hours, some students took the protest to the main road, Nelson Mandela Drive. I ran down from the gate to take pictures and videos of the protesting students and decided to go and get a clear view of what was happening across the road. There was no way I could cross the road and walk in front of the police who were next to me because it was dangerous and so I walked down beside the police vehicles in order to find a safer way to cross,” she said.
She added: “There was big bang and we all ran off. After taking two or three steps, I felt a hand grabbing me forcefully and I quickly explained that I am a journalist but I was pushed into a minibus police vehicle and asked where my card was. I explained that I don’t have one and so I was punched on the face. I told the policeman driving that I am a journalist but I was ignored, even when I used the word ntate (father) in order to give that sense of respect. I grabbed my cap and phone which had fallen under the chair of the car seat. The vehicle drove a few metres away and parked. The policeman who had beaten me came and told me to go.”
“I was confused and angry and shouted at the cop that he should have killed me instead,” she said.
She told The Journalist that another policeman enquired what had happened and her friend related the incident to him. She claims the policeman who had assaulted her came forward and “aggressively” denied that he had hit her.
“We were referred to their captain who swore at us and shouted that we should go and lay charges at Parkweg Police Station,” she said.
“A number of women students came to talk to me. I tried to talk but no words could come out of my mouth. I couldn’t believe it that one could experience such torment in a so-called democratic country,” she said.
“All I can say is that justice must prevail, if it will need me to take out the last energy I have, let it be so! Now one enemy – #Feesmustfall – is down, now the second enemy is police abuse that must fall!
The Journalist directed questions to the police at Parkweg Police Station. Spokesperson Captain Chaka Marope, said:
“I can confirm that a case of assault against the police offers involved in the alleged incident has been registered for further investigation at Park Weg police station. The case has been transferred to the office of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), for further investigation.”