AfriForum announced at a media conference today that its Private Prosecution Unit had laid service charges with Lt Gen. Khehla John Sitole, national Police Commissioner, against police officers who unlawfully and irrationally confiscated alcohol worth thousands of rand at Hennie’s Restaurant in Moreleta Park. The officers allegedly also arrested the restaurant manager, Atrayo Nolte, unlawfully. The Unit currently represents Werner Pretorius, owner of the restaurant.
Three police officers entered the restaurant on 22 January 2021, alleging that Nolte was busy serving alcoholic drinks to customers. Nolte assured the officers repeatedly that they had not been serving alcohol. He even showed them the invoices that indicated that all served drinks had contained no alcohol. The officers refused to accept the documents, however, or to include these in the dossier. They also confiscated liquor in the storeroom to the value of R112 000, most of these still sealed. No arrests were made at the venue. Nolte went with the officers to the Garsfontein police station, where he was arrested for violating the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002.
Nolte had to spend eight hours in the holding cells in the company of other prisoners, most of whom didn’t wear masks. The police also demanded that his pregnant wife came to the police station to confirm his home address before being released on bail.
The National Prosecuting Authority dropped the charges against Nolte earlier in the week. Despite this, the police initially refused to return the liquor to the restaurant. The stock was returned without explanation, however, after Pretorius’s consultation with AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.
According to Adv. Gerrie Nel, Head of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, it is clear that certain police officers are blindly following the example of their political leader. This should evoke sharp criticism. “It seems that Police Minister Bheki Cele wants his reckless behaviour to be copied, for example arresting a lone surfer in front of the media or halting a permitted film production on the beach. We remain hopeful that the police management will ensure that police officers act according to the law and avoid any form of power abuse or irrational action. Although the majority of people understand the need for the regulations that government introduced to manage and limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it seems that the wide-spread criticism against certain law enforcers over the handling and application of these regulations is justified.”
Nel also provided feedback on the formula milk incident that Naas and Natasha le Roux were involved in last month. The unit also submitted complaints against the police officers concerned in cooperation with Le Roux’s lawyer, Lily Rautenbach.