Nine hours of hell ‘for refusing to pay bribe’
Businessman held after run-in with traffic cop
An Eastern Cape businessman is fuming after he spent nine hours in a police holding cell because he allegedly refused to pay a bribe to a traffic officer.
Now wool trader Dirk van Staden, 56, wants action taken against the officer who had him hauled before a court – where a prosecutor declined to pursue the case because the charge sheet did not indicate what crime had allegedly been committed.
Van Staden, who lives in Graaff-Reinet but spends most of the week in Ugie for business, used his cellphone to record the officer, Buyiswe Rulumeni, allegedly asking him for a bribe.
Weekend Post has a copy of the video.
When contacted on Friday afternoon, Rulumeni said she could not answer as to whether or not she had asked for a bribe.
After asking numerous times how Weekend Post knew about the alleged bribe request, she finally said: “Don’t waste my time, I am not going to answer your questions.”
Van Staden’s friend, Sinoxolo Ndzamela, 25, who was with him in the car when it was pulled over about 2km outside Ugie last Saturday morning, confirmed that Rulumeni allegedly asked for a bribe.
Ndzamela said he was forced to spend the nine hours outside the Ugie police station, waiting for Van Staden – who was locked in a single cell inside – because he cannot drive.
A senior court official – speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not permitted to talk to the media – told Weekend Post the docket brought to court had no charges written on it, nor was it dated.
The official said: “The docket was sent back to the police station because it did not have [the date] of the arrest.
“It also was not clear why the accused was being charged.
“The video was also presented to the prosecutor, which also led to the decision,” he said.
Van Staden, who had been robbed by suspects in police uniform a year ago, said: “I no longer trust anyone in uniform because of my past experiences.”
The businessman, who was locked in the cell at about 8.30am when he followed Rulumeni to the police station after she pulled him over for a minor infraction, was released at 6pm after police contacted Rulumeni’s supervisor.
Van Staden said the experience was deeply disconcerting and he felt weak and tired in the cell because he was unable to take his diabetes medication.
“I was in a single cell and it was cold and I had to sit on the floor. I was worried about my health and my wife because she didn’t know where I was.”
He also claimed he was denied access to a telephone to make a call.
Van Staden said he was stopped by Rulumeni along the R61, a few kilometres outside Ugie.
He claimed she initially told him she was stopping him because he had an LED light attached to the bull-bar.
He said she told him cars could not have LED lights because they were similar to those of police cars.
“After she stopped me and asked me to put my lights on bright I complied. She confirmed that the light was not working and that it did not have wires, but she did not let me go.”
Van Staden said Rulumeni said she would let him go on condition he paid her a bribe.
“She said in isiXhosa she wants ‘imali ye drink’ (money for a drink) and I was surprised.
“I told her, ‘I don’t pay bribes’ and that’s when the problem started.
“She then became aggressive and asked for my licence disk, which I refused to hand over.
“I started to feel uneasy because of my experience of being robbed by men in police uniform and asked that we go to the police station.
“When we arrived she asked for my disk and as I was reaching down to my licence she grabbed my car keys.
“My reflex reaction was to grab them as well. She pulled away and my key holder snapped and I scratched her hand in the process.”
Van Staden said as they were walking towards the police station, to where he had followed her, he took the video.
It shows Van Staden and Rulumeni walking into the police station together. She then tells him to go into a holding cell “because you are under arrest”.
Van Staden responds by saying: “No, listen ma’am, how can youwrite me a fine when . . .?”
Rulumeni interjects: “I won’t write you a fine, you are under arrest for [failing to do] what I told you to do.
“I’m on duty! Get in there! You see you scratched me?”
Van Staden then said: “My vehicle is roadworthy, why do you want to take my licence? Because you want a bribe?”
Rulumeni answered: “Yes, you can give me.”
Van Staden then said: “It’s all about money, that’s why you [are] giving me problems.”
Van Staden, who was sitting down at the time, gets up and walks towards the counter where four police officers are watching in silence.
An officer, who is seated, then tells Van Staden it is illegal to take a video of someone without their consent and Van Staden stops recording.
Van Staden said he was held for nine hours and released after paying (police) bail of R500 before being told to appear in court on Monday.
Van Staden said when he arrived at the Maclear Magistrate’s Court on Monday morning he spoke to the prosecutor and showed him the video.
“I showed the prosecutor the video and he was surprised that they [police] arrested me.
“He then told me he would throw the case out of court.
“My lawyer also advised me to open a counter-case against the traffic cop and the station,” Van Staden said.
When asked on Friday on what grounds Van Staden had been arrested, police spokesperson Captain Ursula Roelofs said he was arrested for assaulting the traffic officer.
She also confirmed that Van Staden had laid a counterclaim against the traffic officer.
“We can confirm that Mr Van Staden was arrested [on Saturday] and the charges that were laid against Mr Van Staden are as follows: failing to comply with the traffic officer’s instructions, resisting arrest and assault.
“The case opened against the traffic officer is crimen injuria and is still being investigated.
“Both cases are being investigated,” Roelofs said.
Van Staden said when he went to collect his licence disk he learnt that the licence had been suspended.
“I work with my bakkie and now I am unable to make deliveries.
“It’s the third time now that I am going to Maclear for this disk and it’s costing me money.
“I stay 150km away,” a frustrated Van Staden said.
He says he wants Rulumeni to pay for all the expenses he has incurred since Saturday.
Maclear traffic department station commander Nceba Magadla said he had only recently been informed about the matter as he had been out of town.
“Her supervisor has brought the allegations to my attention,” Magadla said.
“I also received correspondence from the prosecutor of a case that has been opened against her.
“At this point I have to follow protocol and forward the report to our district office,” Magadla said.