LEPHALALE — A complainant, who would like to remain anonymous, accuses AfriForum of being part of roadblocks around Lephalale, where they disguise themselves as CPF members and harass people. The complainant says he was surprised when a member of AfriForum asked for his driver’s license on Friday 8 March between 18:00 and 19:00 in Lephalale.
“I was driving on the R33 towards Lephalale and soon as I reached the traffic circle at the R510, I found a roadblock and a lady approached me. When I saw her name on a name tag, I realised she was a member of AfriForum and not from the SAPS. She asked for my driver’s license and I refused to give it to her because I do not have any legal or moral obligation to give a civilian my documents, unless they find me in their yard or private property,” he says.
He says he was also surprised to find that police were part of the roadblock.
“It seems the practice of AfriForum being part of a search team in roadblocks as well as harassing motorists is common, as I learnt that there have been incidents where black people were beaten up by them. I mostly travel at night. What happens if I am stopped and beaten up because I refuse to cooperate with them?” he asked.
The complainant also said he found it surprising that no one seems to be bothered by what he sees as an unusual practice. He is mostly surprised with SAPS, who seems to be okay with the AfriForum being part of their search team in roadblocks.
Lephalale Cluster Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Frans Mokoena confirmed that AfriForum was indeed part of a police roadblock on Friday.
“Now and then AfriForum members form part of our joint search team, as they are also part of CPF. It would only be problematic if AfriForum were to have their own roadblocks without the presence of police. That cannot be allowed,” he said.
He also mentioned that in such roadblocks, members of AfriForum are given tasks that will see them performing the search of motorists and guarding the area the roadblock is taking place.
He added that AfriForum is one of the structures that works under CPF and their presence is recognised.
Mokwena advises anyone who claims to have been abused by the structure to come forward to bring the matter to the attention of SAPS.
In response to the accusations, the District Coordinator of AfriForum, Jaco Grobbelaar, said that the roadblock was part of AfriForum’s national mass patrol that took place over the weekend, whereby all of their branches over South Africa participated.
“AfriForum does form part of roadblocks with the orders from SAPS and have never arranged a roadblock without SAPS being part of it. We were invited by SAPS to assist with the roadblock.
“According to the law, citizens are obligated to assist the police if given the instruction. There are necessary papers attached that were signed by all participating members of the roadblock to make sure that everything was done according to the law,” he said.
Grobbelaar says they noted a report that in two cases motorists refused to give their drivers licences to the civilian who was given order by the police to check them, but the police officer on duty was called and the matter was resolved.
He says there has not been a complaint registered to AfriForum about the matter.
“All our AfriForum neighbourhood watch members have signed a code of conduct strictly forbidding any type of bad behaviour towards other citizens. We work strictly according to the law,” he said.
He disputed the accusation that AfriForum stops motorists at night and chases them whenever they do not cooperate.
“AfriForum has never pulled over a car unless given instruction by SAPS. Our code of conduct also makes it very clear that no one that forms part of AfriForum neighbourhood watch is obligated to pull over a car as that is the work of the police.
If we find a suspicious vehicle, we immediately inform police and they take it from there.
“We also do not chase those who do not cooperate because we do not pull over vehicles without the police being present,” said Grobbelaar.