The police’s action during the arrest of Elsies River bread distributor Imraahn Mukaddam and his colleague has been called into question. The anti-crime activist was apprehended by the SAPS flying squad at his home on Friday, on suspicion of stolen goods, believed to be bread crates. Mukkadam was arrested without a warrant, which was caught on camera by his Sharmen Gribbi, his colleague at a local community organisation called Inspire Network.
It’s believed Mukaddam and Gribbi were on their way to the Elsies River police station to discuss the search plan for the missing eight old girl Tazne Van Wyk. Gribbi had pitched up at Mukaddam’s home to give him a lift, when the Flying Squad arrived to make the arrest. When the police officials did not show their arrest warrant, Gribbi decided to capture the events on camera, in a video that has gone viral.
“Sharmen asked the police to explain the reasons for the arrest. She told them (police) that they were on the way to police station already and things can be sorted out there. She then asked the police officer for his identification and that’s when things got rough,” said Inspire Network chairperson Steve Ross.
Well known community activist, ImraahnMukaddam arrested by SAPS. This man is one of many who are searching for Tazne. While these varke are supposed to protect us from criminals they waste time in arresting community leaders who are in the trenches in a daily basis trying to secure our working class communities.
Posted by Abdul Karriem Matthews on Friday, 14 February 2020
In the video, the aggressive police officer threatens to remove her mobile phone, but she remains calm and assertive. However, things escalate when he physically tries to prevent her from filming and slaps her. Gribbi then decided to lay a charge of assault at the police station.
However, in a twist of events, she was detained at the police station after the police constable in the question laid a counter-charge of obstruction of justice. The two activists were both released on bail and will appear in court on Monday. Ross said they are deeply disappointed with how the police handled the arrest.
“Nothing was explained as the process happened. Everything was done in a rough manner. When we asked questions, they (SAPS) didn’t want to give us answers. We as the Inspire Network have been working very well with the police and now there’s a space that’s been trodden on.”
“The local police could intervene in that instance, even though it was at their police station. That to me was illogical. I cannot understand why a person that lays a charge against a police officer is immediately arrested, but an officer that commits a crime is on free foot. So this is something we need to discuss with the police.”
Ross said the matter will be investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and they want clear answers as to why the police did not follow due process.
The charges against Mukkadam are unclear and have allegedly been withdrawn.
According to a source, the issue stems from the competition in the bread industry over prices. The competition is between two larger bakeries who are vying for market share. The source claimed they these companies are using the police to lay charges of theft against certain agents to sabotage their competitors.
It seems Mukaddam may have a target on his back as he is well known for being a whistleblower in the bread industry.
In 2006, Mukaddam exposed price collusion within the South African bread industry. He later launched a class-action lawsuit against the bread producing companies, the first in South African history. However, a settlement was later reached.
On social media, community members showed support for Mukaddam and Gribbi and demanded that the police officers be disciplined for their action. Many questioned why the police would arrest the pair for a trivial matter when there were more pressing issues such as the search for missing Tazne.
In a Facebook post, Mukaddam said he could not divulge what circumstances lead to his arrest but that “justice will prevail”.