'Police arrest was staged'

THE withdrawal of the case against three police officers who were arrested last week was welcomed by police union Popcru.

The union said the arrest of their members last Thursday was staged, adding that the withdrawal of the charges had proven that there was no case against the policemen.

Constables Zungu and Masia, as well as sergeant Phalane, were arrested while on duty at the Randburg police station on Thursday last week. They had been accused of assault, fraud and corruption.

This followed a complaint by Patrick Letsoalo of Johannesburg, who said the police had accused him of urinating on the street.

Letsoalo said he was later assaulted by the three officers who later made off with his money, which was R800. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Popcru was ecstatic over the decision to withdraw the case and questioned why there had been a large media contingent at the police station when the trio were arrested.

Popcru even accused the police of "staging" the arrest and said other police officers were traumatised.

"Popcru believes important lessons will be learnt from the release of the three officers who were arrested ... in the presence of a large media contingent.

"The court ... found there isn't sufficient evidence to support the charges of corruption, fraud and assault laid against the officers. The charges against the three men were withdrawn," said the statement.

It further said: "The union is further disturbed by what seems to have been a staged media parade aimed at illustrating a notion that the police are efficient when it comes to rooting out crime from within its ranks.

"The three officers who were arrested were in fact cleared of any wrongdoing through internal departmental processes in 2011. Hence the union's concern that all is not as it seems."

National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga referred Sowetan to Phindi Louw, the NPA spokeswoman for the South Gauteng division, who was not available at the time of going to print.

Police spokeswoman captain Pinky Tsinyane confirmed that case had been withdrawn on Friday pending further investigation. She declined to comment on Popcru's claims that the arrest was staged. - selebim@sowetan.co.za