‘Two sides to Knysna N2 scuffle’
The video of an altercation between a Knysna municipal traffic official and a civilian on crutches that circulated within minutes after the incident last week, Thursday 5 April, has made national news and caused an uproar on social media where hundreds of conflicting comments have been made.
It was also a point of discussion on radio station Umhlobo Wenene the next day during their breakfast show, BEE, which has a listenership of over five million listeners.
One of the hosts asked a traffic official, Tsepo Matshaya, what the procedure is when dealing with people who don’t have their licences on them, as was the case in this incident, to which Matshaya replied, “At no point should any traffic official deal with a civilian in that manner.”
Not speaking to the media
The man in the video, Alroy Kerspey, together with his wife Mercia (who took the video) have since sought legal counsel in light of the fact that Kerspey was allegedly unlawfully arrested, and they were advised not to talk to the media in the interim.
However, Kerspey’s wife did mention to the Knysna-Plett Herald on Monday 9 April that her husband is in bed rest as per doctor’s orders and that he is in no condition to talk about the incident because recollections of the day upset him – “which is very bad for his heart,” she added.
An anonymous local who witnessed the entire incident said, “It’s very easy for people to pass judgement, especially so when the video was not recorded at the very beginning. The gentleman on crutches threw the first punch and sadly that part was never caught on camera.”
Mayor weighs in
The video has been shared on various social media platforms, where many locals expressed their feelings about the incident.
Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies also joined the conversation when she posted on her official Facebook page on Friday, 6 April: “What I witnessed on a video that is currently doing the rounds is extremely disconcerting. I am a strong believer in peaceful discussions and am of the opinion that there is no place for violence or foul language in any situation.
“Having said that, I am also a strong advocate for justice and must therefore allow the investigation into the incident to run its course.”
‘Wait for the facts’
Bouw-Spies said once all the facts have been presented, and only then, can anybody pass judgement.
“I am looking forward to a swift and fair investigation into this matter and must remind all that we remain innocent until proven guilty. I ask that the public refrain from laying blame at the feet of either party until all the facts have been investigated. I am happy that this matter is seen in a serious light, and is receiving the urgency it deserves,” she concluded.
KPH Facebook comments
Below are some of the comments from the story that was published on the paper’s Facebook page:
Vernon Matthee said, “He failed to present his licence disc, but told the officer he would phone someone quickly to bring it. That officer is well known for conducting himself like a thug. He’s arrogant and rude. There wont be any investigation into this matter. The municipality probably already made up their
mind regarding this matter. It’s mos n boetie boetie ding by daai munisipaliteit.”
Maxine Meyer commented, “You still get a fine even if you call someone to bring your licence, and by doing that, he legally resisted a police officer and officers are then trained to physically detain you until you stop resisting. This man was in the wrong, he was driving drunk and without a licence, he broke two laws and deserved to be arrested.”
“About time they were caught on camera and exposed,” said Baba Ganoush, while Marvin Higa said, “This video needs to be sent to eNCA. That’s the only way lenja ingagxothwa emsebenzini ayokho tyhini (this dog will be fired from work).
Beverley Bell said, “What worries me is that we don’t have video footage of before. Unfortunately, we are not seeing why the traffic officer wanted to arrest the man. Surely, it’s not because he just felt like it. And in the beginning the officer is not talking loudly or being aggressive in any way. Surely when the gentleman put his hands onto the officer he was then looking for trouble? Don’t think I don’t find fault with the traffics but I think there is more to this than the footage we are seeing. Sorry, but this is my 5 cents’ worth.”
“Two sides to every story and without knowing the truth as to why he was being arrested I would be careful about making accusations against either party unless you have actual facts and proof to back them up. It’s in bad taste what happened but I would like facts and not emotional hearsay,” said Rikki Fietze. Vannessa L Murphy said, “This is pathetic, he was under arrest and he was resisting, he assaulted the officer, the woman assaulted the officer, used disgusting language towards an officer, the man damaged municipality property by ripping the buttons off the shirt, I really hope they do take this further.”
Nomatamsanqa Hlulani said this was manipulation at its best because the video starts halfway and doesn’t show how it got so rough, “(not) at any point do I see cooperation from the man, video ended, still no license produced. No officer of the law has a right to manhandle people, but they’re both guilty.”
Melanie Evans said she thought everyone just knew the two fundamental truths, “Don’t mouth off to police ever, and don’t pick a fight with anyone if you’re either on crutches or have ‘heart’ problems.”
Jacques James Ainslie said, “He fled the scene where he was pulled over at a routine roadblock. They caught up and pulled him over again in Main Street. Two trangressions! From the moment the video started, if you listen carefully, the officer tried to keep control of the situation. Being cripple does not give you permission the break the law. There is a lot more to this than what you saw on the clip.”
When approached for comment, the Knysna municipality said, “In the interests of all parties involved, it will be premature to make any judgement based only on this video. The relevant department is currently conducting a formal investigation. Only after the conclusion of this investigation will the Knysna municipality be able to comment.”
Screen grabs from a video of the recent incident involving a man on crutches and two Knysna traffic officials, which has been doing the rounds on social media.