Police Services in the “New” South Africa

A video has surfaced showing a man at a Welkom police station in the Free State demanding that a South African Police Service (SAPS) police officer assist him in his mother tongue, Afrikaans.

The police officer responds by reclining on his chair and saying nothing, occasionally whistling to the music heard playing from an audio device inside the station.

In the video, the man presents the video as a demonstration of how white people are treated in South Africa.

“If I were black and spoke Zulu and Xhosa, I would have gotten help a long time ago.”

“Hoekom help jy nie in my taal nie (why don’t you help me in my language)?” the civilian in the video asks.

“If I were black and spoke Zulu and Xhosa, I would have gotten help a long time ago,” the man continues.

WATCH:

What’s your opinion: Gentleman wants officer to help him in Afrikaans, police officers refuses, how would you have reacted if you were the policeman. My opinion both parties completely wrong, first of all the policeman should have stayed professional and advice the complainant accordingly, can’t help in the preferred language then get someone to help, second of all the white gentleman was completely arrogant and played the race card way too much, telling a sergeant of 10 + years your rank means nothing is a slap in the face to many other police officers, I’d like to hear your opinions. Let’s keep the debate clean!

Posted by Police pics and clips on Sunday, February 28, 2016

Police spokesperson in the Free State, Captain Stephen Thakeng, in a statement confirmed the Welkom SAPS management was aware of the incident.

He said: “According to Batho Pele principle, if a member of the public enters our premises and speaks his or her mother tongue that the member does not understand then the concerned SAPS member will consult and get another member who will be able to assist our client.”

“Even though we discovered that the client that took the video could speak English because we heard him say ‘You do not want to assist me in Afrikaans because I am a white person’. So it’s very clear that the client can speak English,” Thakeng added.

He concluded: “At the same time we cannot tolerate the behaviour of our member, thus internal investigation will be conducted about the incident.”

 

Tor Sjöberg
Torsten Sjöberg is a South African based journalist writing about South African, European and Ukrainian events.