Activist lays assault charge against police after SONA

Right2Know member opens case over “bumper sticker” incident

Photo of the back of a car

Right2Know ‘Stop SABC censorship’ sticker on an unmarked, white car driven by a police officer. Photo: Murray Hunter (via Facebook)

By Barbara Maregele

15 February 2017

Right2Know member, Murray Hunter, has opened a case of assault after being slapped and manhandled by members of the police’s VIP Protection Unit.

Hunter was placing one of R2K’s ‘STOP SABC CENSORSHIP’ campaign stickers on the bumper of a white, unmarked police car after the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening.

“Throughout the day, I and a few other people were going around [Cape Town] monitoring and noting the number of unmarked police cars and increased VIP protection officers in the city for SONA.

“At around 11pm, I was making my way home. I stopped behind one of the unmarked police cars at a red light on the corners of Sir Lowry and Tennent Streets. And, in an act of protest, I stuck the sticker on the police car,” he says.

Hunter says five men in plain clothing from the police’s VIP protection unit jumped out of an SUV standing behind him.

“They surrounded me and were yelling at me. They went through my bag and tore up all the remaining stickers. They wouldn’t tell me who was in charge. It became clear that they weren’t going to arrest me; they were just there to intimidate me. That’s when one of them slapped me with his open hand, knocking my glasses off,” says Hunter.

In a bid to defuse the situation, Hunter says, he admitted to the officers that his actions were wrong, but they continued to shout at him. “I told them that this was assault and that they couldn’t do this. That’s when the officer hit me again.”

Hunter says the officers forced him to remove the sticker from the police car before they sped off.

“I wasn’t able to get a licence plate number. With the reputation of the police protection unit, I think I got off pretty lightly. I stand by my act, because it was a political statement. Whether they should’ve arrested me for it, is a whole other conversation, but they didn’t,” he says.

Hunter has opened a case of assault at Cape Town central police station.

He added that others had indicated an interest in starting a similar “sticker campaign” during SONA next year.

“We will continue our fight against the securitisation of Parliament,” says Hunter.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo he could not comment as the matter was under investigation. “We should allow the investigation to take its course.”