A video has emerged showing members of South Africa’s Police Service being assaulted by family members and friends of a suspected Nigerian drug user who was found dead in a house in Vanderbijlpark (an industrial city on the Vaal River in the south of the Gauteng province).
A report released confirmed that there had been scuffles between Nigerians and police. The former were under the impression the police had killed one Nigerian national.
Initial reports indicate that the man died from an overdose, however, on the video his hands seem to have been injured by some form of handcuffs, which led the Nigerians to believe the police had killed the man.
The Vanderbijlpark SAPS urged residents and motorists to avoid the area in Forest Street between Currie Boulevard and Hallwatch Street due to a shootout between the SAPS and Nigerians.
“When police could get in eventually, they found a corpse in the house. However, when relatives of the person who was found dead arrived, they were under the impression that the SAPS killed the person and the situation escalated”, said Makhale.
Makhale said three police officers were assaulted, one of which was critically injured and taken to a hospital. Two police vehicles were damaged. Warning shots were fired after the assault on police officers.
According to Makhale there are about 50 Nigerians at the scene and they will make arrests as soon as more back-up from the SAPS has arrived. Various SAPS units are already on the scene and they have closed off the roads around the area….
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has condemned the attack.
“Six police officers were injured after being assaulted by a group of men. The police were following information on a drug house in the area. During the attack the police used shots to disperse the crowd. No one was shot at or injured‚ said Gauteng police spokesperson Kay Makhubele.
“Police are investigating assault‚ murder and attempted murder (charges). No arrests have been made yet. The police officers were medically treated after the incident‚” Makhubele said.
Mbalula said the armed police present did all they could to de-escalate an explosive situation.
“I am very proud of our police and it shows we are achieving our goals in having (a) professionalized police service‚ but this does not mean our police are open to assaults and other threats on their lives‚” Mbalula said in a statement.
He said no amount of anger could justify the attack of police officers and he said undermining of police was equivalent to undermining the authority of the state. Mbalula has instructed the police to clamp down decisively on those thugs‚ who saw it fit to attack the police officers.