JMPD ABUSE: Motorist Carmen Bell filmed an altercation involving several officers and road user Raymond van der Merwe on March 15 outside the Mall of Africa in Midrand. Image: Carmen Bell via Facebook
Johannesburg - On Wednesday (March 16), Wheels24 reported on a video showing an altercation between a driver the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officer at the entrance to the Mall of Africa in Midrand, outside Pretoria.
Facebook user, Carmen Bell, filmed the altercation involving several officers and a motorist on Tuesday (March 15). Bell said: "From the video you see how they physically assaulted this person after he refused to be arrested for not having number plates."
Read: Jozi cop abuse victim: 'A gross misuse of power'
JMPD spokesman Wayne Minnaar said: "An investigation is underway by JMPD Internal Affairs Unit with regards to the video. A statement is needed from the motorist who is involved in the squabble."
Since then, driver Raymond van der Merwe has come forward and his attorneys are liaising with the JMPD regarding the incident.
'Unfair treatment from the JMPD'
According to Van der Merwe: "Following the unfortunate events of 15 March 2016, it goes without saying that I will be pursuing the matter further. A gross misuse of power by the very institute that is supposedly to protect myself and every other South African citizen occurred against me in person.
"I have consulted with attorneys in order to better understand my legal rights and the legal avenues that are available to me in actively dealing with the events of 15 March 2016. My attorneys of record, P Smith Attorneys, have already made contact with Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar from the JMPD, whom will be receiving my statement of events in due course.
"I can honestly say, in pursuing this matter further I’m doing so solely to ensure that the baseless and unfair treatment I received from the JMPD is not replicated in any shape or form.
Read van der Merwe's full response here
Raymond Van der Merwe - Image: Facebook
We've since asked Van der Merwe for more details. He says an official release from his lawyer will be published soon.
Following the incident, we asked Wheels24 users 'What’s your attitude towards being pulled over by the JMPD?' and a homepage poll garnered more than 12 000 votes.
• None, officers are professional, well trained - 348 votes
• They might abuse their authority - 1682
• I've never had a bad experience - 1761
• A few bad officers ruin it for the rest - 4141
• I fear for my safety - 4192
Know your rights
Wheels24 spoke to Arrive Alive and Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) regarding the incident.
JPSA said: "The latest video depicting JMPD officers abusing a motorist to go viral acutely demonstrates the urgent need for proper training and discipline which exists in the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department.
"Behaviour such as has been demonstrated in this video cannot go unpunished and it is our sincere hope that the motorist concerned will lay formal criminal charges against the metro policeman concerned and that the JMPD will take the appropriate corrective action on a disciplinary level.
"This said, it is rare for the JMPD to do anything in the absence of a formal complaint from the motorist concerned and its management and spokespersons are all too often extremely quick to jump to the defence of the indefensible actions of abusive so-called “officers” who see fit to act as thugs and drag all of their colleagues into the stereotypical views that the public holds that all metro police are little more than criminals in uniform."
Click here to read the JPSA's full response
What if an officer is being aggressive? What should you do?
Arrive Alive said: "We need to be non-confrontational and avoid physical contact or abusive language at all times. Just as a traffic officers should not be shoving a citizen around, road users should also refrain from laying a hand on traffic officers or using any abusive language. We are pleased to see that the situation has calmed down after the initial physical confrontation. Be respectful to traffic officers just as traffic officers should be respectful to road users in a professional manner in which the need to execute their powers."
Read: Rights and obligations when stopped by a traffic officer
Do you have the right to film a police officer?
Arrive Alive: "Yes, you can film a traffic officer. The Right to Know campaign has excellent material regarding the legalities of filming officers in South Africa."
SAPS standing Order 156:
• An officer cannot stop you from taking a photo or video.
• An officer cannot seize/damage your equipment. An officer cannot force you to delete footage.
Click on the tweet below for a more in-depth view of your rights with regards to filming officers.