Pubdate: Tue, 11 Mar 2008
Source: Cape Times (South Africa)
Copyright: 2008 Cape Times
Author: Karen Breytenbach


While the students and nightclub owners who were allegedly manhandled
and assaulted by the police during raids in Stellenbosch on Friday
night prepared to take joint action against the police on Monday, the MEC
for Community Safety has called on the provincial police
commissioner's office and the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD)
to investigate the raids.

The management of Bohemia, Die Mystic Boer and Springbok Pub were
compiling statements from traumatised customers which they would
submit to their lawyer for a civil and criminal case against the police.

The campus radio station MFM also encouraged students caught up in the
raids to make statements.

At the time of the raids, after midnight, Bohemia and Die Mystic Boer
each had about 250 customers and Springbok about 800.

Springbok Pub owner Julian Vermeer said he saw how customers were
slapped, punched and sprayed with mace by about 30 officers, while the
women had their bras searched for drugs in a separate room. He himself
was pushed to the ground.

George de Beer of Honey Attorneys said he was consulting with several
students and their parents and expected to have about 200 statements
by the end of the week.

Among those was a traumatised 25-year-old female student who was
allegedly sexually assaulted by police officers in Bohemia's office.

De Beer said independent witnesses who heard her screaming and begging
the police to stop molesting her have come forward.

The DA's Lennit Max, former police commissioner of the Western Cape,
condemned the raids "in the strongest possible terms" and compared
them to similar raids in Lavender Hill and Hawston.

Max called on Community Safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane and provincial
Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros to set up a commission of inquiry
into complaints of police brutality.

He also called on the provincial legislature's committee on community
safety, an oversight body, to hold public hearings on the matter.

He said reports indicated a 43 percent increase in police brutality
from January to June 2007.

"It seems that the police are currently seeking out 'soft targets'
while the 'hard targets' like gang members and tikdealers are running
rampant on the streets of our communities," Max said.

The University of Stellenbosch also condemned the "harsh treatment" of
students and members of the public, "evident from photos and video
clips", and called on Stellenbosch police station head Dirk Mentoor to
let the ICD investigate the matter without interference.

But Novela Potelwa, Petros's spokesperson, told the Cape Times on
Monday that the provincial office had received no complaints and
therefore Mentoor, who had received four complaints from students,
would be in charge of the investigation into his officers' conduct.

Asked if a more independent investigation should not be launched, she
said: "We need to allow this process to unfold." Potelwa said the
local Community Policing Forum had received several complaints about
drug dealing at Stellenbosch nightclubs and the police were obliged to

Only a small quantity of cannabis and 3g of hashish was found at the
clubs. Mentoor on Monday told that the raids were conducted
according to "standard procedure".

University spokesperson Mohamed Shaikh said university was committed
to good relations between the university community and the SA Police
Service and he hoped to arrange "high-level talks as soon as
possible" to discuss the raids and ways to mend any strained relations.

Meanwhile Mentoor, other Stellenbosch police officers, representatives
from the Stellenbosch town council and the university's SRC met on
Monday to discuss the situation.

Concerned parents and members of the public also contacted the media
to share their shock and disgust.
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