Resident alleges police beat and shot him for filming lockdown operation

Police minister “must act swiftly against the criminal elements in the SAPS”

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Photo of Johnson Kula
Johnson Kula from KwaNobuhle says he is taking the police to court after he was allegedly assaulted, shot at and his phone damaged. Police officers accused him of filming their lockdown operations. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

A 62-year-old man from KwaNobuhle in Uitenhage says he will be taking the police to court after he was allegedly assaulted, shot, and his phone damaged, after officers accused him of filming their lockdown operations.

Johnson Kula, who is a retired court interpreter, said he was walking on Lawrence Vinqi Road on Wednesday when a convoy of SAPS, army, metro police and traffic officers sped towards him.

“I was all alone in the street … Carrying my plastic bag of groceries. My cellphone rang but I didn’t know the number … I was looking at the screen when a police officer shouted from a police van: ‘He is [filming] us’. The convoy stopped a metre from me,” said Kula.

He said five police officers approached him. One grabbed his cellphone and again asked whether he had been filming them.

“He insisted I was [recording] them. I pleaded for them to look at my phone to confirm I had not taken a video. The officer threw my phone on the ground and tramped on it. He said it was illegal to take a video of their convoy,” said Kula.

“One of the cops standing behind me hit me with a rifle on my head and I fell down. He shouted, ‘We saw you [filming] us and don’t talk when we talk. We are officers’. All the five officers surrounded me, kicked and trampled on my upper body,” said Kula.

Another officer, in the distance, scolded the five officers. They stopped the assault and the convoy continued, he said.

Kula also accused the officers of shooting at him, with a rubber bullet injuring his right hand and hip.

Kula said he was disappointed with how he was treated because he too praised police minister Bheki Cele for deploying officers to enforce the regulations. “He must act swiftly against the criminal elements in the SAPS … They are clearly making a mockery of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call on security officers to treat the public with necessary respect and dignity.”

Kula’s attorney, Raymond du Preez from GP van Rhyn Minnaar & Co Inc, told GroundUp: “I have already prepared my client’s statutory notice which will be sent via registered mail to the National Commissioner of Police and Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner of Police once lockdown is uplifted.”

Du Preez said he was compiling documents and medical records from the Laetitia Bam day hospital where Kula was treated after the incident.

“The SAPS docket will be requested once progress has been made into the investigation … The Chief Justice has also issued directives on what the courts will be dealing with during this extended lockdown period,” he said. As a result it was not clear when the matter would be dealt with.

When asked for comment on the alleged incident, police spokesperson Gerda Swart promised to send our questions to the provincial head office. We had not received a response by the time of publication.

TOPICS:  Covid-19 Police brutality

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