Calls for cops to be suspended after viral scuffle with dad over child
A family is ‘traumatised’ after two traffic officers grabbed a four-year-old child while making an arrest
A Durban attorney has weighed in on growing public outrage at a video which depicts two KwaDukuza traffic officers, one without a mask, attempting to arrest or apprehend a child “with considerable force”, for breaking lockdown rules.
The incident, which occurred on Sunday in Shaka’s Rock, on KwaZulu-Natal’s Dolphin Coast, and was filmed by the neighbour of the affected family, sparked an outcry on social media after going viral.
In the video three traffic officers approach the complex where the family resides and demand to be let in.
Irrespective of whether the officers allege the adults or the child have committed an offence or breached the lockdown regulations, their conduct amounts to assault and kidnapping.Attorney Wesley Rogers
When the gate opens, two of them start to approach the father, who hurries towards his neighbour’s wife to leave his six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son in her care before he engages with them.
However, his son, draped in a swimming towel, lags behind and one of the officers takes him by the hand before his father realises what’s going on.
The boy starts to scream as he is caught in a tug-of-war between the officers and his father, who desperately tries to break the grip one of the officers has on his child.
On Tuesday, the 35-year-old father, a medical doctor whose identity has been withheld to safeguard his children, told Times Select he had been at the beach with his children and neighbour.
“Because the children were screaming, I tried to get them into the complex before dealing with the officials. In the vicinity of the gate, one of the officials took my four-year-old son by the hand and led him away from the complex. I grabbed my son and told him to run to his sister, which he did, still screaming.”
He described the incident as “extremely traumatic for everyone who was around at the point”.
The father, his neighbour and a number of other people who visited the beach that morning were taken to the Umhlali police station where they were charged with violating the Disaster Management Regulations and forced to pay a fine.
In an open letter to the KwaDukuza Municipality (KDM), Durban attorney Wesley Rogers said it was clear the child in the video was a minor, with no legal capacity in law, and could not be held responsible for his conduct.
“Irrespective of whether the officers allege the adults or the child have committed an offence or breached the lockdown regulations, their conduct amounts to assault and kidnapping.
“It is further suggested that the KDM traffic police undergo legal training to prevent another gross violation of the law and abuse of power if the municipality wants to avoid a plethora of civil claims,” Rogers said.
“At the very least it should offer some form of trauma counselling to the child.”
He said the officers were not above the law and were obliged to comply with the laws they were employed to enforce.
“To allow this conduct to go without sanction will further erode public faith in the justice system and undermine the entire purpose of our constitution, drafted specifically to prevent South Africa from reverting to a police state.”
We will not tolerate bullies like this roaming our streets.DA councillor Tammy Colley
The municipality said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon that the matter had been investigated and that none of the children had been manhandled (read their full statement below).
The DA condemned the incident and vowed to write to the municipal manager, also calling for the immediate suspension of the officers pending the outcome of an investigation.
“We will not tolerate bullies like this roaming our streets,” said ward councillor Tammy Colley.
IN FULL: STATEMENT BY KWADUKUZA MUNICIPALITY
KwaDukuza Municipality Conducting an Internal Investigation On “Scuffle” Between Two of its Peace Officers with Father and Child
The KwaDukuza Municipality conducted an urgent internal investigation to ascertain what transpired on Sunday, 10 May 2020, at an incident where two of its peace officers seemed to be in a "scuffle" with father and child in the Shaka's Rock area, the findings of the institution are as follows:
The KwaDukuza Municipality's officers received a complaint of non-adherence of Disaster Management Act Regulations at the Shaka's Rock tidal beach.
It was around 8.45am when officers arrived at the Shaka's Rock tidal beach and observed people being at the beach while it is not allowed during lockdown level 4, in the company of kids.
Officers informed them of their transgressions and their rights, 11 in total were arrested.
There were seven (7) kids as officers were effecting the arrest and 4 kids were handed over correctly and safely to their homes and with no harm.
The other three (3) kids were being processed to be handed over to their homes safely at the same premises as seen on video when this incident happened.
Eleven (11) arrests were made on the day in question for Contravening Disaster Management Act Regulation 24(2)(a) for being found at a place prohibited to be during a lockdown: public parks, sports ground and fields, beaches and swimming pool. Reference: SAPS Umhlali Cas 55 and 57/05/2020.
The person recording the video was also arrested for the same transgression.
Furthermore, we have learned that the man causing drama by running away to avoid arrest is an employee of the department of health (DoH) at Chief Albert Luthuli Hospital.
The municipality can confirm that the child who was seen being handled in the video was handled in terms of Child Act, and was being taken to safety after the arrest of the father who works for DoH. It is the officer's responsibility, like in this case, to secure and safely keep and handle the child in cases of arrests by taking the child to a safe place which was the case with these officers not manhandling the child.