Arrested and falsely accused

Esethu Mcinjana, 23, was arrested in Sea Point.

There might be some relief for the Mfuleni woman who was accused of being in possession of a remote-jamming device and arrested on the promenade in Sea Point.

Esethu Mcinjana, 23, said she was humiliated when two police officers approached her and searched her bags as she waited for a job interview at a hotel on Sunday May 19.

As she was early, she decided to sit on a bench on the promenade and take selfies to pass the time.

The alleged police harassment of Ms Mcinjana sparked a furore and notices were pasted all along the sea wall which read: “We are
all Esethu Mcinjana! Apartheid mentality MUST END! South Africa belongs to All South Africans! #Freedom2Selfie #EndRacism.”

Now Ms Mcinjana said the hotel has called her for another interview on Monday and is offering her a learnership.

“I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from the public. I wasn’t ready to go back to the place where the incident happened but I need this job,” she said.

Her first words to Vukani at our offices on Monday May 27 were: “nantsi levictim”.

She smiled and thanked the media for their support.

“I remain hurt even today,” said Ms Mcinjana. “I was violated. I was stripped off my dignity. I was called a criminal. I had pictures and fingerprints taken,” she said.

She said after a long argument and explanation she was taken to the Sea Point police station in a police van, which was accompanied by a second van.

“I tried so hard to convince (the police officer) that I was there for an interview. She would not budge to my plea no matter how hard I tried. She said I was lying as there are no job interviews on Sundays. I pleaded with her to go to the hotel and find out but she continued embarrassing me in full view of people. I was crying profusely,” said a distraught Ms Mcinjana.

She said the worst thing was not being allowed to inform her mom what was taking place. “I went to a dirty cell crying. I was thinking about my family. People are disappearing and I thought of my mother. I was lucky that one ‘good’ policeman gave me a phone inside the cell to inform my mom. My mom would have been in the dark for two days because I was to appear in court on Tuesday but sanity prevailed, I was released in the afternoon on Monday at around 3pm.”

Ms Mcinjana’s mother, Margaret, said not only did her daughter have to deal with the stress of not attending the job interview, she also had to relive the trauma every day.

“My daughter was ill-treated. After the incident she was never herself again. You could see the trauma she went through. It was a very scary experience for her,” she told Vukani.

According to Western Cape SAPS, an investigation is under way following the wrongful arrest of Ms Mcinjana.

She said the officers searched her bag and found her keys and a remote that she used as a keyholder.

A local law firm has offered to help Ms Mcinjana take legal action against SAPS.

She said she would be approaching the South African Human Rights Commission on the matter.

Western Cape SAPS spokesperson, Brigadier Novela Potelwa, said the incident would be investigated by a senior police officer from the Cape Town Cluster. Once the investigation is finalised, details will be made known.

“The SAPS wishes to reiterate its commitment to upholding the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa that espouses the principles of human rights.

“In addition police officials are expected to abide by the tenets of the SAPS Code of Conduct that speak to the treatment of everyone in a humane manner,” she said.

Mayor, Dan Plato has also weighed in on the matter, encouraging Ms Mcinjana to open a case with the police ombudsman.

“From the video that has been posted online and the claims that have been made by Ms Mcinjana, I am concerned about the alleged conduct of the SAPS.

“While the SAPS have a duty to protect our communities they also have a duty to conduct themselves professionally and to treat all suspects respectfully.”