Student wants answers following alleged police assault

Unclear if proper investigation has taken place

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Photo of Unathi Mantashe with her arm in plaster
Unathi Mantashe alleges that a police officer and security guard at King Sabata Dalindyebo College assaulted her during a student protest. Photo supplied

Unathi Mantashe laid a charge of assault against an Elliotdale police officer in March. She alleges she was attached by the office and a security guard at King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) College during a demonstration. (See GroundUp report of the demonstration.)

Students at the college, which is about 60 kilometres drive south from Mthatha, were protesting that their 2015 final exam results had not been released. They accused the college of losing their papers. Some students have still not received their results as of today.

Mantashe alleges that the assault took place in full view of other students and police. She had tried to record a video when police and guards were pushing students and firing shots in the air. However the officer, whose name is known to GroundUp, saw her.

“He came straight to me and started pushing me towards the wall. I fell down but he did not care. One of the guards also came. They pushed me and kicked me while I was on the ground. Other students started shouting. That is when they stopped,” she said.

A students tried to record a video clip of what was happening. Although it did not show an attack, as described in GroundUp’s report at the time, there were sounds of students screaming, some shouting “Umbethela ntoni?” (“Why are you beating her?”) and scenes of students running.

Mantashe’s friends took her to Mandwaleni Hospital. Her arm had to be bandaged and in plaster for over a month.

Mantashe said that since she opened the case, the investigating officer only contacted her once when he asked her to arrange a meeting with only two of the witnesses. “I asked him if the two witnesses were enough. He said there’s no need to have many witnesses. That was the last time he contacted me,” said Mantashe.

After not hearing from the investigating officer for a long time, she decided to call him on 24 May. She didn’t want the case to disturb her while she writes her upcoming exams. “I just wanted to know how far the investigation is so I can prepare for my exams,” said Mantashe. But she was shocked to hear that the investigating officer is no longer in the Eastern Cape.

“No one told me anything … they just kept quiet,” said Mantashe.

She managed to contact the investigating officer who told her he does not know who took over the case. He will only know that when he comes back from Pretoria in December.

“He didn’t even tell me what to do or who I can contact,” said Mantashe.

Elliotdale police spokesperson Colonel Sibongile Soci said a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was opened for investigation. She said the case docket has been forwarded to the independent Police Investigative Directorate for further handling.

TOPICS:  Police brutality Policing Tertiary Education

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