2007-01-11 : Police brutality

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2007-01-11 : Police brutality

Postby GOSA » Thu, 2007-01-11 16:47

Twenty staff members at Tiger Tiger, the Greyville nightclub that was raided by balaclava-clad policemen and other officers at the weekend, will undergo trauma counselling on Thursday.

They have asked the management of the club to help them cope with the aftermath of what they claim was a "brutal and very aggressive" raid when people were allegedly hit with batons, kicked and pushed around, had guns pointed at them and were even attacked with metal chairs.

Some 23 patrons complained to the club that they had been assaulted by the police, particularly members of the SAPS National Intervention Unit, who wore balaclavas as part of their uniform.

SAPS spokesperson Superintendent Phindile Radebe this week reiterated her earlier comment that if people felt they had a case, they should open one. Some cases had been opened at Berea Police Station and these were being investigated, she said.

Meanwhile, one man who witnessed a police operation at one of the three clubs targeted by police on Friday night and early on Saturday morning is launching a website (www.sapolicebrutality.com).

"It is not a slander site. We want genuine stories, which will then be forwarded to the police commissioner," he said.

One Tiger Tiger "bar lady" has opened a case of sexual harassment against an officer.

The raids on Tiger Tiger, the Zappa Club in Brighton Beach and Da Flava nightclub in Jacobs were carried out in a joint operation by the SAPS, the Intervention Unit, the Organised Crime Unit and the Crime Intelligence Unit.

The raids came after complaints about underage drinking and drugs, police said.

Tiger Tiger said no arrests were made and the police found no drugs, just a few "muscle science tablets".

Police said a total of six people were arrested at the other clubs, although the owner of Da Flava said neither she nor staff had received any reports of anyone being arrested for drugs.

Da Flava and Zappa were closed down by the police and Da Flava's owner said this was because management could not produce a business licence.

It is understood that Zappa is also in the process of finalising its entertainment licence.

The police first mounted a 90-minute operation at Tiger Tiger, and when the balaclava-clad men burst into the club, patrons and staff thought it was an armed robbery.

"We started panicking. They were very aggressive and we had guns to our heads and were told to get down to the ground or we would be shot. When we asked who they were, they said there was no need for us to know," said the Tiger Tiger bar lady.

She saw one girl being hit on the head with a baton, she claimed.

One officer told her how nice and sexy she was and touched her arm.

"I was shocked. When I told him that he could not say that and that it was unprofessional, he asked me if I could not take a compliment. I said yes, but not in that situation.

"Then he suggested we go for a walk. When he was joined by other officers, he asked them if they also agreed that I was very sexy and they agreed. I did not feel safe or comfortable and will never trust another cop again. We were scared."

A statement by Tiger Tiger (which will close on January 19 when the club's lease expires) said it did not condone the level of aggression used by the police, but would not be taking the matter further. They would "seek assurance that this level of policing would be used against crime syndicates and serious offenders".

The club was not overcrowded (as a police source claimed). It was permitted to hold 1 000 and there were 732 people inside on the night.

Meanwhile, IFP MP John Bhengu, whose son Mlungisi Bhengu, 22, lost an eye after an attack outside Tiger Tiger on December 22 by three suspects (not Tiger Tiger employees) issued a statement saying that he had contacted Bheki Cele, the KZN Minister of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, to ensure that "justice was done to these three men".

He said he did not "wish any action to be taken against Tiger Tiger whose owner and staff were very helpful".

The owner of Zappa declined to comment, while the Da Flava owner said she was sorry that some of her patrons had been assaulted by the police and offered to help them.

.. This article was originally published on page 6 of Daily News on January 11, 2007
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