CentralSA#PoliceBrutality: FS hitchhikers' trial deferred again, to 2022
─── OLEBOGENG MOTSE 11:13 Thu, 02 Dec 2021
The trial into the 2017 assault of four Free State hitchhikers at Edenburg by seven police officers, has again failed to get underway and has been deferred to January 2022.
One of the hitchhikers who was brutality assaulted, Edgar Mokotso, tells OFM News the trial was meant to commence on 1 December 2021 following previous delays, including microphone issues. But despite all seven embattled police officers being present in the Edenburg Magistrate’s Court on the day, the matter was postponed for the prosecution to prepare for trial. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in the Free State is yet to confirm the events of this court appearance.
In October 2017, Mokotso and three other people were hitchhiking on the N1 outside Trompsburg, heading to Edenburg. They got a lift in a white Iveco panel van which was stopped by police shortly after they left the hiking spot. The group was blamed for a robbery at a local furniture store. They allege police assaulted them while they were in custody before releasing them for wrongful arrests the same day. Interestingly, Mokotso and company have received compensation from the state in light of the incident to the tune of hundreds of thousands. This pay-out occurred in late 2020.
This postponement comes as Bloemfontein resident, Dipuo Madimabe, seeks the truth in a separate allegation of police brutality. Madimabe wants to find out how two police officers ended up assaulting her husband when they were simply meant to take her spouse into custody at around midday on Tuesday 30 November, in relation to a domestic violence incident at the couple’s marital home in Wilgehof. A gun was also fired during this incident.
Madimabe’s neighbours, a helper and an officer who was called to the scene to investigate the gunshots, all attest to witnessing and hearing her husband being brutalised and assaulted by two police officers, contrary to the officials’ version of the events. She told OFM News her husband allegedly exhibited volatile behaviour and got into a scuffle with the two police officers. She maintains that that cannot be the case, because when she went to pick up her belongings at around 9 am accompanied by police officers, her spouse was civil and “kind”. He did not display any violent behaviour and no longer seemed under the influence of alcohol, as was the case the night prior. This incident is now being investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).