Diplomatic immunity may not hold on cyclist assault case

South Africa
Pretoria cyclist, Hein van der Merwe, has battled for six days to get a case registered with the police against an Iraqi diplomatic policing unit who allegedly assaulted him. The event was filmed on a cell phone and put on YouTube. eNCA

PRETORIA - Charges of assault and reckless driving laid by Pretoria cyclist Hein van der Merwe are being investigated, police said on Tuesday.

The cyclist laid charges against the driver of an Iraqi government official following a scuffle on May 8.

Brigadier Phuti Setati said on Tuesday that the envoy's driver also reported charges of crimen injuria and intimidation at Brooklyn Police Station in Pretoria.

He said police were now investigating all the cases.

A video of the scuffle has been posted on YouTube.

Van der Merwe told eNCA the diplomat's vehicle did not stop at a stop sign at the corner of Brooks and Roper Streets and proceeded to cut him off.

"In my attempt to get the driver's attention by cycling next to the driver side door/window, repeatedly shouting and in a final attempt to get his attention, hitting down twice on his side wing mirror (which was completely undamaged), the vehicle deliberately tried to run me over by swerving into me."

A brawl ensued as the diplomat's black Mercedes-Benz was parked on the side of the road.

In the YouTube video, a diplomatic aide is seen wrestling and pinning Van der Merwe to the ground.

Setati said allegations that police officers who arrived at the scene did not assist Van der Merwe were also being investigated.

He said diplomats in South Africa were protected by private security, not by police officers.

When a diplomat was involved in an incident warranting police intervention, Setati said statements were taken and the dockets were forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for further instruction.

"The SA Police Service will not take any action pending the decision by the DPP, who will be in close liaison with the department of international relations and co-operation," said Setati.

-Additional reporting Sapa

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