Last week Sifiso Hlongwe, our Learning for Life Youth Worker, was beaten up at the local Amaoti police station by four policemen. They had asked him to move our marked Indlela vehicle along the road. The police thought that Sifiso was disobeying them, when he battled to start the car as the immobilizer had kicked-in. Slapped, punched and kicked around, Sifiso was bruised and humiliated but was saved by the intervention of Theo Brown, who had been called to the station by a witness.
The next day we met with a Colonel from the Inanda police station to discuss the situation. He said that before they could investigate the matter, a charge had to be laid. Sifiso and Mickey stated that they wanted to discuss the events with the four policemen and would like an apology. They were told that policemen do not apologise, as an appology is seen as a confession of guilt and could then lead to the police being charged.
So Sifiso and Mickey had three options;
- Lay a charge – the police go into defence mode, probably get off unscathed and risk Sifiso being visited late at night by the four policeme
- Drop it
- or Push for an apology – Apparently that night the policemen parked their vehicle outside Sifiso’s house and just sat there, intimidating
The Colonel was beginning to understand us and the work we do and proceeded to ask us for assistance on other issues. Sifiso and Mickey were encouraged as they felt that God was opening more doors, but were insisting on meeting with the four policemen. The Colonel finally agreed.
Next minute, Mickey’s old friend Capt Dlamini phoned, it turned out that it was his policemen that were involved. The Captain was very tense, but agreed to a meeting with the officers involved.
There was a very tense atmosphere in the meeting as it was Mickey, Sifiso, a witness and the Captain on one side and the 4 policemen on the other. The four cops were already in counter attack mode and so Sifiso and Mickey chose to speak the truth. They explained who Indlela was, the work we do, who Sifiso was in the community and then Sifiso described blow for blow what had transpired a few days before. The police then spoke their side of the story.
The final outcome?
The Captain and Mickey left Sifiso and the four policemen in the room. The one cop took their hat off (this was quite symbolic) and they apologised to Sifiso.
Indlela are working with the Colonel on other pressing matters.
Another Colonel is bringing a team to see who Indlela are and what we are doing in the community.
The whole police station (and Inanda is huge – it’s probably hundreds), have heard of what happened and that no charges were laid. They all can’t believe the outcome that no charges were laid–
forgiveness is the greatest gift given to this world, yet it is a gift the world does not understand.
Sifiso has shared cell numbers with all the parties and is now quite a respected young man.
The community was very aware of the police action – and now respect has been restored.
Four policemen hopefully have a much better awareness of what is right and wrong and their colleagues too.
Thank you Lord, for protection, courage, wisdom, discernment and that you have turned things around for good.