Chaka's Rock residents wait to be formally charged, case dropped against surfers


The 11 Chaka's Rock residents, who were arrested in May for allegedly contravening lockdown Level 4 regulations under the Disaster Management Act after going to the beach, are currently waiting to hear whether they will be formally charged.

Meanwhile, the case against 4 Ballito surfers, who were also arrested for contravening lockdown, have been dropped, North Coast Courier reported.

In May, the KwaDukuza municipality had exonerated the two officers from any wrongdoing in the controversial altercation at Chaka's Rock.

The incident, which was captured on video, received widespread coverage amid furious condemnation of the behaviour of the arresting officers.

Footage showed the officers allegedly trying to drag a four-year-old child out of a complex while his father tried to pull him away from them.

The officers arrived at the complex to arrest the father of the toddler and several other families for allegedly failing to comply with lockdown regulations.

After a municipal investigation cleared the officers of wrongdoing, lobby group AfriForum stepped forward to represent nine of the group legally.

The 11 residents were temporarily placed at the Umhlali police station after their arrest before being released on bail amounting to R1,000 each.

The residents were summoned to appear at the Umhlali magistrates court on 10 August after the state obtained subpoenaing documents.

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Afriforum's head prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, said the matter was not placed on the court roll on the 10th due to that day being a public holiday.

Nel said that none of his clients had been consulted to provide their version of the event after the municipality's attorney refused to hand over their investigation report of the officers involved to Afriforum.

The organisation's spokesperson Natasha Venter said their Private Prosecution Unit has since made representations to the prosecutor on the case arguing that the charges should not be reinstated, while also requesting for the residents' bail money to be refunded.

"We are currently awaiting a response by the prosecutor of the National Prosecuting Authority," said Venter.

Venter said it remained an unanswered question whether the municipal officials had the power to arrest 11 people under the Criminal Procedure Act as they were municipal peace officers.

However, KwaDukuza municipality spokesperson Sipho Mkhize argued that all work done by peace officers, who serve as traffic and crime prevention officers, during lockdown was and still is legitimate.

"Our officers apprehended, and will continue to apprehend, wrongdoers and hand them over to Saps who then complete the arresting and fining processes – this has always been the modus operandi," said Mkhize.

Meanwhile, the four Ballito surfers said their cases had been dismissed by the Stanger Magistrate's court.

"We received a notice to appear in court and hired a lawyer to represent us but all our cases were dismissed before we even went inside the court," said one of the surfers.

This article first appeared on North Coast Courier and was republished with permission

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