21 January 2016
On 8 January Eduard Grebe published how he was arrested for filming police officers assault a man. Grebe lodged a complaint with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), asking for two assaults he witnessed to be investigated.
Grebe has not yet received a response from IPID.
Grebe also lodged a complaint with the Western Cape Ombudsman of Police about his alleged unlawful arrest. The ombudsman is however still awaiting feedback from the South African Police Service (SAPS) which is conducting an investigation into the matter. SAPS confirmed that an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Grebe described how he witnessed a homeless man being assaulted by two police officers at night. He filmed the incident on his cell phone. The police officers arrested him when he refused to delete the footage on his phone. He spent the night in a cell at Woodstock Police Station, which was overcrowded and unsanitary, and then witnessed police allegedly assault another man the next morning. The second assault was much more violent than the first. Grebe described how the victim was kicked in the groin and screamed for his mother.
Grebe was released in the morning without charge.
Deidre Foster from the office of the ombudsman told GroundUp, “The Ombudsman has ascertained that there is no law in place, which prohibits a citizen from taking pictures or recording an arrest, provided that there is no obstruction or interference by the citizen.”
However, she also said the Ombudsman does not investigate cases of police brutality. Instead these are referred to IPID. The ombudsman does however investigate allegations of unlawful arrest.
Grebe emailed Owen Anthony of IPID on 13 January, as recommended by the ombudsman. He has not received a response.
GroundUp contacted the office of the IPID Western Cape but the number, which is given on their website, was not available. Eventually we got hold of Anthony via a number provided by the ombudsman’s office.
Anthony told GroundUp that he had received the email but “I could not attend to it at the time because things have been hectic. I will look at it now and will provide feedback by today as I will not be in the office tomorrow”. He added that he could not give an exact time of the feedback but it would “definitely be today”.
Anthony said his office had received a letter from the ombudsman and would take the matter from there and because a complaint was not filed at the police station, IPID was not aware of the incident.
“I will make time to meet Mr Grebe personally about this matter and we will take it forward,” Anthony said.
After Grebe’s article was published, several people described their experiences of alleged unlawful police behaviour in the comments on Grebe’s article, by email or directly to our reporters. The Woodstock police station was repeatedly accused of brutality.
Here is one example. Moeneeb Martin, a University of Cape Town student. He described how he was manhandled and pepper sprayed while walking in Observatory, because he “looked suspicious”.
“It happened around June last year, I was walking in Observatory and a police van came up to me. One of the police officers looked out the window and said to me “Kom hierso”. I didn’t pay attention and I continued walking. He called me again for the second time, then they stopped and one of them jumped out the van, came up to me and started questioning me. They then wanted to search me but I resisted and they started pushing me and pepper sprayed me,” said Martin.
He said he was arrested and spent a day in jail for no reason.
The station commander of Woodstock Police Station was unavailable when GroundUp called for comment.