Home South African KZN municipal officials try ‘seize’ child after parents break lockdown regulations.

KZN municipal officials try ‘seize’ child after parents break lockdown regulations.

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Rights organisation says there is no possible explanation for the way the officers dealt with the matter.

Durban – The actions of two municipal traffic officers who followed a North Coast family home and attempted to “seize” their child because they allegedly violated the Covid-19 regulations by going to the beach, have been described as an “abuse of power” and inexcusable.

Edith Kriel, executive director of Jelly Beanz, an organisation committed to helping abused and neglected children, said she was disturbed after watching the video.

She believed that there was no possible explanation for the way the officers dealt with the matter, even taking into account lockdown regulations.

She said the fact that the person who tried his best to protect the child was detained, compounded the trauma that the boy experienced.

“There are processes and procedures in place should a child need to be arrested or removed. None of these were followed. Over and above this, even if the officers did not know of or understand the law, it is just against any sense of reasonableness and ‘keeping the peace,’” said Kriel.

#Ballito today: How can any peace/police officials behaviour of this kind be justified?#SouthAfrica is heading down a VERY dangerous path with certain police/security activities. Where is#Cele now?#day46oflockdown#COVID19SA#Covid_19#LockdownSA#coronavirus#mondaythoughtspic.twitter.com/0qi4RBfPa5

— Ian Cameron (@IanCameron23)May 11, 2020“No child of his age can be held responsible for his behaviour, nor can they be removed or arrested in this inappropriate manner.

“I would argue that this is abuse – abuse of power and a criminal offence. I trust that the municipality will urgently and strongly deal with the perpetrators of these actions,” said Kriel.

KwaDukuza Municipality spokesperson Sipho Mkhize said they had launched an internal investigation into the incident, which went viral on social media.

He said they “noted” the video on social media showing officers “who seem to be in a scuffle with a father and child in the Shaka’s Rock area, near Ballito”.

I was so mad when I saw this today ! What the hell is going on ? Whatever the situation was this is WRONG !@SAPoliceService please explain this? Happened today in ballito.@Abramjee@News24@CNN@PresidencyZApic.twitter.com/Jib4eVhIGY

— Bobby van Jaarsveld (@bobbyvjaarsveld)May 11, 2020

“We do not condone any form of abuse levelled against our residents, particularly women and children. We are engaged with an internal investigation to ascertain the facts of the incident.

“However, we do take cognisance of the emotive issues that the circulating video has stirred. We appeal for calm and co-operation from our community while we endeavour to deal with this matter,” Mkhize said.

The video shows two municipal traffic officers grab a terrified child of 4 as he walks behind a man, believed to be his father, on private property in a complex, before apparently attempting to arrest him.

The video, which was widely circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook, shows the two officers, wearing light brown uniforms, march on to the premises and pull the young boy away from the man.

One of the officers is not wearing a mask, in contravention of regulations that it is mandatory to wear a mask in public.

The father then attempts to grab the child from the officers and shouts: “Leave this child, get your hands off this child, somebody call the police!”

He manages to wrestle the boy from the officers, but they pull out handcuffs, apparently to arrest him, and they walk towards the gate of the complex.

The traumatised child screams out in clear desperation: “Dad, dad, no daddy, no daddy!”

The person filming the video then says: “He is not going to jail this is illegal, we need the official police here. They’ve been doing this for the last hour. They’ve been harassing everyone and they were doing it because we were on the road, we were on the beachfront.”

A resident who lives in the complex said the child’s scream could be heard from her apartment.

“It was one of those gut-wrenching screams. I was horrified to see the video on social media and realised it was the very screams I heard earlier in the day,” she said.

The woman said she had been informed that the couple had allegedly taken their children for a walk on the beach and a swim in a tidal pool early in the morning.

“I don’t think the municipal police saw them swimming. I heard that they only saw them walking into the complex, but the kids were wet and wrapped in towels while their dad carried a water board, which gave them away. They broke the rules, but there was no need to handle and traumatise the family like that,” she said.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said she had reported the incident to National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole.

“The point is whether or not there was a criminal action – this family may have stepped on the beach or something like that. There is absolutely nothing to excuse grabbing a child, attempting to haul a child off, and ripping him out of the arms of his parent and chucking him in a cell, who knows what they were going to do with him?

“These arrests are turning the South African population against all police or army of any kind. It’s malicious, it’s mean and it’s people who have been given way too much authority over civilians, and they like us neatly locked away in our houses. It’s just horrendous.

“This is not about the virus, it’s about people who should be steering traffic and now feel they are so important they can rip a child out of your arms.

“To touch a child is inexcusable. Someone who would grab a 4-year-old out of the arms of a parent should not have any job with any authority over people,” she said.

Local councillor Tammy Colley said the manner in which the officers handled the child was unacceptable.

“We may be in a national state of disaster, but human rights must still be upheld,” Colley said.

A member of the municipality’s Community Safety Portfolio Committee, Privi Makhan, said she had written to its executive director, Cecil Viramuthu, calling for an investigation into the incident and a report.

Makhan said: “It is unconscionable that any contravention would warrant community safety representatives manhandling a child and using unnecessary force in the manner that’s being depicted in the video.”

She said the conduct of the law-enforcement officials was “simply unacceptable and disturbing”. Adeshini Naicker, the acting director of Childline KZN, said the obvious trauma that the child experienced was disturbing. She said the brazen disregard for the child’s emotional well-being was “really sad”.

“This incident should never have taken place in the presence of the children, let alone the child being touched and being yanked,” she said.

“The other children were also subjected to trauma by witnessing the incident. This is absolutely not acceptable.”

Edith Kriel, executive director of Jelly Beanz, an organisation committed to helping abused and neglected children, said she was disturbed after watching the video.

She believed that there was no possible explanation for the way the officers dealt with the matter, even taking into account lockdown regulations.

She said the fact that the person who tried his best to protect the child was detained, compounded the trauma that the boy experienced.

“There are processes and procedures in place should a child need to be arrested or removed. None of these were followed. Over and above this, even if the officers did not know of or understand the law, it is just against any sense of reasonableness and ‘keeping the peace,’” said Kriel.

“No child of his age can be held responsible for his behaviour, nor can they be removed or arrested in this inappropriate manner.

“I would argue that this is abuse – abuse of power and a criminal offence. I trust that the municipality will urgently and strongly deal with the perpetrators of these actions,” said Kriel.

The Mercury