AfriForum’s private prosecution unit announced at a media conference today that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had refused to institute charges against Naas Le Roux. Le Roux was arrested on 7 January after he had violated the curfew during an emergency to purchase formula milk for his new-born baby. AfriForum’s private prosecution unit had a watching brief in this case and last week made representations to the prosecutor as to why Le Roux should not be prosecuted. AfriForum also announced that the unit will put pressure on the SAPS’s investigations team, but also support them with the internal investigation of the various police officer’s alleged misconduct during this incident.
According to Kallie Kriel, AfriForum’s CEO, the organisation welcomes the NPA’s decision not to prosecute Le Roux. “However, it increasingly seems that certain law enforcers are abusing the lockdown regulations to bully ordinary, law abiding citizens rather than to focus on fighting serious crime. This was clearly an emergency and the SAPS officers’ lack of insight and empathy to enforce the regulations in a rational manner is truly shocking. We cannot allow the SAPS to treat law abiding citizens like criminals. We will therefor remain involved in this case to ensure that active action is taken against the relevant police officers.”
Adv Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, said during the conference that the action of the SAPS in this case clearly points to a lack of training, as well as neglecting to understand the purpose of the lockdown regulations. “The purpose of the regulations is not – as Bheki Cele, Police Minister, proudly announced, to burden 7 000 people with criminal records because they are not wearing masks – but to lighten the burden on hospitals by stopping the spread of the virus.”
During the conference it was said that Mr Le Roux had been arrested on 7 January 2021 because he had broken the curfew to buy formula milk for his hungry new-born baby at the Clicks pharmacy at Unitas Hospital. The baby was born on 6 January 2021, and the baby as well as Le Roux’s wife, Natasha, were discharged from hospital on 7 January. Even though Mrs Le Roux was breastfeeding, a complication emerged with the baby’s feeding and Mr Le Roux had to drive to the emergency pharmacy at the hospital on the Friday morning at about 01:00 to buy formula milk. Upon his return, two SAPS constables pulled him over about 250 m from his home. They refused to listen to reason or to grasp that he had been breaking the curfew rule because of an emergency, even though he showed them the can of formula milk and the receipt.
The police officers – who had no visible form of identification or badges – were very aggressive, according to Mr Le Roux, insulting and verbally intimidated him several times. The situation escalated until one of the officers told Le Roux that they were going to arrest him that evening and teach him a lesson.
One of the police officers took Naas’ car keys from his vehicle and tried to prevent him from recording the conversation.
They did allow him to phone his wife, however. She had to walk about 250 m to the car carrying her new-born baby – who was restless from hunger – to get the formula milk. She begged the police officers to let her husband go, but they simply refused. One of the police officers then asked Mrs Le Roux if she could drive. She then had to drive home with her new-born baby on her lap, while the police officers arrested her husband and put him in the back of a police vehicle. The officers told Mrs Le Roux that she could follow them to the police station to pay Mr Le Roux’s bail.
Mrs Le Roux arrived at the police station after feeding the baby at home. The warrant officer warned her to leave and go home immediately, otherwise she would also be arrested. She went home and obtained legal assistance for Mr Le Roux from Lily Rautenbach, who managed to get him released from custody the next morning.
Rautenbach applied her experience well and managed to get Naas released on a warning. She will deal with the subsequent civil claims against the police.
- Click here for video footage of the incident.