Nose case raises questions about cops

WHITE RIVER – Mr Brian Barnard (20) lost half of his nose two weeks ago and the man responsible for this mutilation has still not been apprehended.

This despite the fact that Barnard identified his attacker on a photograph and there were several eyewitnesses to the incident.

The assault occurred on November 15, just before 20:00 at Bahati, a well-known bar in town. Barnard and his cousin (who prefers to remain anonymous), were unknowingly socialising with a suspect in an armed robbery when employees of J&M Security and members of the police’s highway patrol stormed in. Eyewitnesses recount that the security guard, dressed in civilian wear, grabbed Barnard, who resisted. “He was yelling ‘what is going on here?'” when he received a blow to the face with the back-end of a firearm,” one witness told Lowvelder.

Barnard fell to the ground where another blow was dealt to his face, this time with the barrel of the weapon.

It was clear to bystanders that the suspect in the armed robbery knew what was happening. He apparently yelled “the boy had nothing to do with it”. Both suspects were taken outside for questioning and Barnard was dismissed by the police based on the admission of the robbery suspect.

Bleeding profusely, he was taken to Mediclinic Nelspruit by a family member. His cousin retrieved a part of his nose in the parking lot the following day. Doctors operated for three hours to mend the crushed cheekbones and transplant skin. He has no bone in his nose at present.

Soon after his release from hospital on November 18, Barnard opened a case of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm at the Nelspruit police station. The case was transferred to White River.

He did not name his attacker in his official statement, but later identified the man from a photograph shown to him by a friend. The suspect is an employee of J&M Security and his identity is known to the newspaper. In an initial conversation with the paper, the man did not deny the attack. His statement was later retracted and replaced with the comment that J&M will react as the matter unfolds. He agreed to an interview last week, but failed to turn up at the appointed time.

Provincial spokesman for the SAPS, Col Leonard Halthi, has been unable to explain why, in two weeks’ time, the investigating officer has not approached Barnard for a positive identification of his attacker. He reiterated the statement made a week ago regarding the case, saying that statements are still outstanding and that positive identification needs to take place. A week ago, the SAPS indicated that an arrest would be made within a week, and this was said again on Wednesday.

A high-ranking police officer confirmed that police officers should have arrested the suspect on the scene. The newspaper received confirmation that members of the Flying Squad were on the scene.

“It is sufficient for Barnard to have identified his attacker by means of a photograph. There is no need for a formal ID parade,” the police officer added, and also said that this constitutes, in fact, a case of attempted murder.

This week, a concerned mother directed a letter to the paper in which she asked, “Who guards the guards?”. She wrote that she had been following the case and had been waiting to see when an arrest would be made. “Now it seems they will not make an arrest and I want an answer from the police and the body that is supposed to govern security companies,” she states.

Hlathi said this week that the police “investigate to arrest and not the other way around”. According to him an arrest was imminent this week.

Read the original  articles here.

  AUTHOR
Susanna Oosthuizen
Journalist

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