Jondry Tidikwe claimed that he was on his way to sell some scrap metal with his twin brother, two nephews and some friends when police fired shots at them at the T-junction near the scrapyard in De Beershoogte on Thursday last week.
Police brutality exposed: They shot me 12 times with rubber bullets at close range. In a horrific case of alleged police brutality, a 21-year-old man from Barkly West was forced to walk home after he was assaulted, shot at 12 times and abandoned in the veld.
“The rest of the group ran away. I was carrying the scrap metal on my shoulder and did not flee. A group of police officers grabbed me, assaulted me and then threw me into a police hippo. They continued to assault me by means of their batons and kicked me with their boots in the moving vehicle, although no charges were laid against me,” Tidikwe said on Saturday.
Tidikwe explained that they sold scrap metal as they were unemployed and it was the only way for them to at least earn a meagre income.
He said that the police vehicle came to a stop after he had noticed a signboard along the side of the road indicating that they were in the vicinity of Good Hope farm. “I was told to get out of the vehicle and was shot at 12 times with rubber bullets at close range, in the back.” Tidikwe said that the police then drove off and he had to make his way home on foot.
“I had to walk slowly because I was injured, bleeding and bruised. It took me about an hour to get to De Beershoogte. I was only able to receive medical treatment the following day (Friday) because I was prevented from accessing the R31 because of the community protests.
“My friends told me that they came to look for me after they ran away from the police on Thursday but could not find me.” Tidikwe’s family members said on Saturday that they were outraged at the cruelty that was meted out to him, allegedly by the police.
“Tidikwe was shot with intent and left for dead. He was never involved in any of the protest action. We were under the impression that he was being transported to the police station when they threw him in the police van. We had no idea where to look for him or that he would be taken to the veld and shot at. He is peace loving and never causes any trouble.”
The founder and co-ordinator of Building a Future Community Development and Mzansi Centre in De Beershoogte, Irene Fitzi, added that over 100 children, youths and the elderly who attended the centre were traumatised after witnessing how Tidikwe was allegedly assaulted by the police.
“The scrapyard is in close proximity to the centre. Although he was an innocent bystander (amidst the service delivery protest) he never resisted and accompanied the police. Youths are growing up fearing the police, while their hard-handed tactics are resulting in a volatile situation in the town,” said Fitzi.
Police spokesperson, Captain Thabo Litabe, confirmed that a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was registered at Barkly West police station in connection with the alleged incident.
“It will be investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and as a result, they are the ones who will communicate further on the matter,” said Litabe.
This alleged incident follows the arrest of 12 people after the police fired rubber bullets and a stun grenade at a group of community members while they were being interviewed by the media outside Dikgatlong Municipality on October 17.
Police spokesperson, Lieutenant-Colonel Dimakatso Mooi, said that the accused were released on bail of R500 each in the Barkly West Magistrate’s Court on October 18.
“One of the accused was released on bail of R1 000 as he had a pending case.” Meanwhile, no cases of arson have been registered after a yellow Volkswagen van and a bakkie was set alight on the road between Barkly West and Delportshoop during a protest action on October 17.
“Protests might continue on Monday (today) but the police will maintain visibility in all affected areas,” Litabe added.