TABLE VIEW OFFICER PREYS ON US, REFUGEES CHARGE

Cape Argus, 2 April 2008

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A round a dozen refugees have lodged a complaint with the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) against a "top cop" at Table View police station who they allege is abusing and robbing them. Thabo Leholo, provincial head of the ICD, confirmed the case and said investigations were under way, but did not have the details. "Come back to me at the end of the month," he said. Congolese, Senegalese and Zimbabwean refugees claim they have been subjected to racial and physical abuse, murder threats and robbery by a policeman at the Table View station. They referred to him as a "bad man". A Senegalese crafts trader at Blouberg Beach, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, claimed the officer has robbed him of more than R4 000 in the past year and has destroyed his asylum papers three times. He claimed the officer visited refugees at night, ordered them to get into a bakkie and drove them as far as Malmesbury, Stellenbosch and Atlantis, where he left them. They had to walk back. "When we get there, he orders us to lie down and, at gunpoint, we are made to empty our wallets. "I have to pay rent, buy food and look after my family back home, but with this cop, life is becoming unbearable and miserable." A Congolese refugee, who works as a car guard at the beach, claimed that a week ago the policeman destroyed his asylum papers and wanted to strangle him. "Every time time he sees me, I get arrested. He calls me a monkey and says that I should go back to my country," he said. "He has told us that this place belongs to umlungu (the white man) and we should give him all our hard-earned money as it belonged to the state. "He has no heart. I'm a refugee and not a criminal, trying to earn an honest living by looking after people's cars, but he punishes me for that." Another Congolese refugee claimed the policeman had hit him with the butt of a gun because he was not fluent in English. The refugees have appealed for something to be done soon as they believe their lives are in danger.