South Africans are faced with the reality that at any time that one is in the custody of the police; one could end up either in hospital or worse, at the mortuary. Yet another senseless incident of police brutality has hit the news. Police brutality is no longer a ‘hot’ topic in South Africa; it appears to be the norm.
This Thursday, News24 reported on yet another incident where a man was dragged by a vehicle driven by the men tasked with providing safety and security for the public. The Mmabatho Magistrates Court looked favourably on the bail application of Sergeant Mbali Phetha who is accused of the attempted murder of court interpreter Morgan Mohlala.
Sergeant Phetha was one of two police officers called to the scene of an altercation between a storekeeper and a customer. The customer, who also lives in the same neighbourhood as Sergeant Phetha and Morgan Mohlala, complained that Phetha and the other officer had assaulted him while he was in their custody.
Morgan Mohlala, backed by his experience of the justice system, offered to help the man lodge a complaint of police brutality. It is said that Sergeant Phetha was furious when he overheard this conversation. Phetha wrapped a hand tightly around Mohlala’s neck and held on as the vehicle was in motion, dragging Mohlala for a distance of about 100 metres during the vehicle ran over Mohlala’s feet.
Magistrate Seth Mmushi set bail at R1 000 and ordered Sergeant Mbali Phetha to be present at his next court appearance on 2 May 2013. For reasons known only to the state, bail was not opposed.