The Tshwane Metro Police Department has again been accused of executing a violent, unlawful arrest – this time of a German-born Unisa law professor.
Professor André Thomashausen, professor emeritus of international law at Unisa and former director of the Institute of Foreign and Comparative Law, was arrested by three Tshwane metro officers late on Tuesday night as he, his wife, and two visitors from Germany were heading to his home in Centurion after attending a dinner in Johannesburg.
What followed was an hours-long ordeal that has upset one of his visitors so much, she wants to leave the country immediately. His other guest is a retired board member of Daimler AG in Stuttgart, Germany.
According to Thomashausen, who has drawn up a detailed affidavit of the events, his wife was driving, as he had had two glasses of wine at the event.
As they were driving down Alexander Road in the direction of Botha Avenue in Centurion, a vehicle overtook them in the left lane.
“It startled me as I became aware of it,” Thomashausen said. “As I looked out of my left window, the car suddenly switched blue lights on and the driver signalled us with very forceful hand gestures to stop.”
Thomashausen’s wife pulled over and he rolled down his window to enquire why they were pulled over. According to Thomashausen, the driver of the police van shouted at him to get out of the car.
Unisa Professor André Thomashausen. (Supplied by André Thomashausen )
“I asked him to identify himself. He got out of the car and so did two other young male persons; two were wearing bullet-proof vests with the other wearing a green luminous vest.”
While one of the officers spoke to his wife on the one side of the car, agreeing that she would pull the vehicle up to a security barrier manned by a local private security team, on Thomashausen’s side of the car, “an extremely agitated man wearing the luminous green vest demanded that we drive to the Lyttelton police station, after I asked to be allowed to do that”.
The three officers then got back into their vehicle, but because his wife didn’t hear his conversation with the officer, as she was being instructed to pull into Bruce Street by another officer, she slowly started to drive into the turn-off lane.
“At this point, the apparent police van accelerated violently with tyre[s] screeching, passed my vehicle and cut in front of it to the right to block the way.
“My wife was forced to do an emergency breaking so as not to drive into the van in front. All three occupants of the apparent police van jumped out and tore at my vehicle’s doors. I locked my door, but my wife’s door on the driver side was flung open and one of the men in bulletproof vests ripped the keys [from] the ignition and tore my wife out of the seat by her arm. She screamed in fear and anguish,” Thomashausen says.
‘We will teach you a lesson’
When Thomashausen attempted to film the incident using his cellphone, one of the officers allegedly reached into the car to grab the device.
“At this point, the officer in the yellow vest tried to pull my arm out through the half-open window and swore at me saying: ‘I will teach [you] what I can do to you, you white racist’.
“I raised my voice and told him that he could lose his job for what he was doing. He reached deeper into the car, let go of my cellphone and activated the button to unlock the door.”
Thomashausen was then pulled from the car, arrested, and put in the back of the police van.
“Before closing and locking the door, [the officer] said: ‘When we get to Sunnyside, we will teach you a lesson you will not forget, you white shit.'”
The officer then allegedly threw the keys of his vehicle on the ground in the direction of his wife.
“The van then drove off at [a] high speed, blue lights flashing. I held on by pushing my legs against the side of the van, but eventually hit my nose on a sharp metal edge, sustaining a bleeding cut.”
His wife and friends followed the police van.
Thomashausen was eventually taken to the Lyttelton police station, where he was charged in a process that took more than three hours.
According to him, this was because of ongoing arguments between the metro police officers and the SAPS officers.
“I understood that they were arguing about the content and who would sign as arresting officer. I overheard the metro policemen refusing to give their identities and personnel numbers to their SAPS colleagues and telling them that they had a right to ‘transfer’ me to Sunnyside police station.”
The SAPS sergeant on duty seemingly refused to agree to a transfer.
After a SAPS colonel and later a brigadier intervened, Thomashausen was released on bail of R500 at about 05:30 on Wednesday. He was charged with assaulting a police officer, crimen injuria and intimidation.
Thomashausen was still reeling from the ordeal, he told News24 on Wednesday. “My one friend has also been traumatised and wants to leave the country immediately.”
The names of the arresting officer, SAPS sergeant, colonel and brigadier are known to News24.
Tshwane metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba told News24: “We are aware as the department about this incident that took place on the mentioned date and times.
“We are yet to obtain statements from the affected members as they were still to report for duty – at the moment they are on rest days. We will be able to comment further as soon as we obtained statements and have facts.
“The matter is being investigated and [the department] will provide feedback once [we] have more information about the incident.”
Thomashausen appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, where the charges against him were withdrawn.
“I am quite relieved,” he told News24 following his appearance. “I have been told that the officers are being investigated. I have always been very positive about South Africa and I’m happy with the way the metro police are handling the issue.”
In December, a Pretoria nursery school teacher was allegedly assaulted and thrown to the ground by Tshwane Metro Police Department officers because she didn’t pull over immediately, as she was still traumatised after having been duped into a fake roadblock by gangsters in February last year, News24 reported.