AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit demanded in a letter to the mayor of Dwarskersbos today that Jerome Pedro, a traffic officer in Dwarskersbos, be suspended pending an impartial and fair investigation into his conduct. The unit is acting on behalf of five people who fell victim to Pedro’s alleged unfair and arbitrary conduct. In the letter the civil rights organisation also requests a reversal of criminal charges against these individuals for the supposed contravention of lockdown regulations.
AfriForum announced last month that its Private Prosecution Unit would assist Ludwig Gericke. On 9 May 2020, during level 4 of the lockdown, Gericke was arrested and allegedly manhandled by Pedro and another traffic officer in Dwarskersbos in front of his wife and young children. At the time, Gericke was waiting for his wife and three year old child who were shopping for essential items at a shop. After this announcement, AfriForum received several complaints from the Dwarskersbos community regarding Pedro’s conduct.
The Private Prosecution Unit has also requested all the evidence on the Gericke incident used by Adv. Hanlie Linde, municipal manager, during her investigation into Pedro’s conduct. Linde’s investigation found Pedro innocent of any misconduct. During the investigation, none of the community members represented by AfriForum were consulted for their versions of what took place and as a result one can surmise that Adv. Linde simply relied on Pedro’s version of how the incident played out.
In the letter Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of the Private Prosecution Unit, noted the unit’s concern over the increasing occurrence of government launching hasty, one-sided investigations into the alleged unlawful conduct of officers. These investigations usually conclude that officers are not guilty, despite evidence which proves such hasty findings are usually irrational.
“We can’t allow law enforcement to turn ordinary law-abiding citizens into criminals. The Minister of Police is seemingly very proud of the arrest of over 230 000 people for the so-called contravention of lockdown regulations, while the investigation of corrupt politicians is still taking a backseat. It seems as if this attitude towards the criminalisation of the public is spilling over to some law enforcement officers. If this continues, many law-abiding citizens will be left with criminal records, instead of those who actually deserve it,” says Natasha Venter, AfriForum’s spokesperson for this case.