DA to take cops to court over assault

ARTICLE BY CHELSEA GEACH & KIERAN LEGG / ARGUS NEWSPAPER

FRACTURED ribs, bruised limbs and hurt necks, this is how paramedics have described some of the injuries sustained by five DA members arrested and manhandled by police officers yesterday ahead of the State of the Nation address. And now, they are looking to press assault charges against eh officers who allegedly hurt them. DA national spokesman Marius Redelinghuys led the members into the dock of the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court his morning. He was nursing injured ribs. Staff member Deon Basson wore a neck brace and seemed to grimace in the dock. The five had allegedly been pushed to the ground and arrested yesterday after they intervened when police turned a water cannon on a group of DA supporters. They were released on bail last night after an hour-long bail application. [Attorney: Bruce Hendricks] They are facing charges of public violence and taking part in an illegal gathering. The case against them was postponed until March 26 to allow police to complete their investigation. However, court proceedings continued as their lawyer revealed that they were pursuing charges of assault against the arresting police officers. The opposition party protesters were chased by police and blasted with water cannon in the precinct surrounding Parliament yesterday. The DA members, including Cape Metro regional chairman Shaun August and national spokesman Redelinghuys, were arrested after a clash broke out between police and DA supporters lining Adderley Street before the Sate of the Nation address. Social media reports suggested that ANC members were also arrested, although the Cape Argus was unable to confirm this with their leadership last night. Video footage showed August being picked up by his hands and feet and manhandled by police before being tossed into a van. Minutes before he was arrested, August said: “We are coming to see how our president looks because he’s been absent the whole year, we’ve forgotten what he looks like. We’ve got no placards, we are peaceful. We are here to send a clear message that Zuma must resign.” Redelinghuys, who is an MP, was dressed in black when he was blasted head-on with water cannon. Crouching slumped against a car he was also arrested and bundled into a police van. DA spokesman Shaun Moffitt said police told him they had orders to remove the DA supporters from the street before President Jacob Zuma arrived. “We had to tell police that we are peaceful spectators at a state event,” he said. “But they said they had orders from above to remove us before the president comes up Adderley Street.” Several hundred DA supporters dressed in blue T-shirts were lining the side of Adderley street before the clash with the police escalated. “They tried moving us back,” Moffitt said. “Then they were charging us with their shields; they got very aggressive with their shields.” As the DA crowd ran back towards Green-market Square, police blasted them with water cannons from Nyalas. When the crowd regrouped, a leader told them the safest option would be for them to go home, but many refused, chanting that they wold not leave. Retreating to Burg Street, the DA supporters instead protested for their incarcerated leaders to be released. Police spokesman Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said he would only be able to comment on the events later, when information had been reported back from the police teams at the scene.