Motorist claims police assault

Primrose resident Juan Christophers alleged that his family has been left traumatised after an encounter with Edenvale SAPS members.

By Stephan Lehman

“I don’t know who to trust anymore; I am cautious now and my wife is also scared.”

A Primrose family has been left shaken after their encounter with Edenvale police officers on April 29.

Juan Christophers believes he and his family were treated unfairly by police officers at a roadblock on Shelton Avenue.

“We were going to watch rugby and have a braai at home,” said Christophers.

Two metro police assault incidents in 4 days reported in Edenvale

He said his daughter had asked him and his wife to drop her off at the Brazen Head so she could watch the ruby with friends.

On their way to the restaurant, the Christophers family was stopped by officers at the roadblock.

“The officers’ behaviour was bad. I stopped the car and was told to get out. The officers told me they were conducting a stop-and-search,” he said.

According to Christophers, he did not act aggressively towards the officers.

Once out of the vehicle he presented his driver’s licence to one of the police officers, he said, and the officer told him he wanted “something else”.

Christophers said he told the officer he didn’t have “anything else” on him, only R40.

While he was out of his vehicle, an officer told Christophers that he could smell alcohol on his breath.

He admitted to the officer that he had had one beer two hours before being stopped at the roadblock.

Marks on Juan Christophers’ neck. He requested the NEWS not to show his face in photos. He said the marks were the result of a police officer grabbing him by his shirt.

“They told me to go to the police van for a breathalyzer but when I realised we were walking to the back of the police van, I realised something was wrong,” said Christophers.

He alleged one of the officers tried to grab him and force him into the police van.

Christophers said the officer used force when he grabbed him by his shirt and that this left marks on his neck.

When Christophers asked why he was being detained, he said he was told it was because he had “resisted a stop-and-search”, because of his bad attitude and because of a suspicion that he was driving under the influence of alcohol.

“I was not handcuffed. I was just thrown into the back of the police van,” said Christophers.

He said when his wife asked what would happen to her and her daughter as neither of them drive, the female officer on duty said she didn’t care and that she was on duty.

Christophers said he was first taken to the Edenvale Police Station, then to the Sebenza Police Station and finally back to Edenvale.

During his second time at Edenvale Police Station, Christophers was released.

He said after his release he was told that his wife had allegedly been hit by one of the officers.

“My wife tried to get between one of the officers and myself and she was hit on the arm whilst at the roadblock.”

“When I learnt of this I wanted to open a case of assault against the officers,” said Christophers.

UK tourist left battered after assault by metro police officer in Edenvale

After the officers heard that Christophers intended to open a case, the gate to the police station was closed, preventing the family from leaving, he said.

According to Christophers a police officer then proceeded to manhandle his sister.

“One of the officers pulled my sister’s hand and removed the keys from the ignition while she was sitting in her car,” said Christophers.

Christophers’ sister threatened to call a lawyer and lay a charge of assault against the officer who had grabbed her hand.

He said after 30 minutes of further discussions, the situation was defused and the family left the police station.

Edenvale SAPS is aware of the incident.

“Although no report has been made against the officers, the Edenvale SAPS is aware of this incident,” said Edenvale SAPS acting spokesperson Sergeant Jacob Mashile.

Mashile said the main reason the man was detained was because the officer suspected the man to be under the influence of alcohol.

Mashile said the roadblock had been authorised by the Ekurhuleni North SAPS Cluster.

“Police roadblocks and stop-and-searches are authorised under the Police Act number 68 of 1995 under section 13 paragraph six,” said Mashile.

He cited the Police Act and said SAPS members can, without a warrant, search persons, premises and vehicles in South Africa and within 10km of SA’s territorial borders.

Mashile said the reason the Christophers was taken to the Sebenza Police Station was that the officers were looking for blood alcohol test kits.

No test kits were available. “The officers let the man off with a warning,” said Mashile.

He said he could not comment on Christophers’ allegation of the gate being closed, preventing the family from leaving the police station.

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“Officers cannot close the gate unless there is a serious threat,” explained Mashile.

“I am not saying I am a saint. Primrose SAPS know me for both my bad behaviour and good, but I do know the correct procedure police need to follow. I have previously been arrested for not wearing a seatbelt and I also try to help out at Primrose SAPS,” said Christophers.

“I try to treat cops with respect and would like to get treated with respect in return.”

Christophers believes there is a major problem with the police in general.

“Most of the complaints come from Edenvale, though. You speak to people and hear terrible things,” said Christophers.

After seeking legal advice Christophers confirmed with the NEWS on May 5 that he still planned on reporting the assault.

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Stephan Lehman

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