A Sudanese medical doctor, Emmanuel Taban, assisting Covid-19 patients in South Africa was allegedly ‘xenophobic ally’ harassed and assaulted by a member of the South African Metro Police.
The report shocked the South African Medical Association (SAMA) who said such discriminating incident is appalling.
The doctor was in the company of his wife in Tshwane (Pretoria) when the incident occurred. Taban, a former registrar at the University of Pretoria, who attended Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg, and his wife have been involved in treating patients with Covid-19.
The doctor is a South African pulmonologist and his wife, a physiotherapist.
They were allegedly harassed and assaulted by Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers on Saturday night while on their way to the Midstream Mediclinic, where they both work.
Taban said he passed a truck on the R54 when he was stopped by the unidentified officers. He was told he was being arrested for passing a vehicle on a solid white line and driving recklessly.
An altercation ensued during which Taban says he was manhandled, throttled and him and his wife sworn at before they were taken to the Lyttelton police station. Taban says the officers hurled abusive language at them about his ethnicity, among others.
“This type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and inexcusable. If someone has broken the law, then deal with them, but be professional. To have a situation such as this escalate into a xenophobic onslaught is certainly not professional.
“To have a woman involved in a physical altercation with police officers also does little to reinforce the president’s message of dealing with gender-based violence. This entire situation is appalling and needs close inspection,” Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said.
Coetzee saysTaban is a SAMA member and is well known for his professionalism and willingness to always help colleagues and patients.
“We cannot have a situation where a doctor who is on his way to assist patients in dire need of care is treated in this way. The TMPD should have handled this situation completely differently with a view to ensuring both his, his wife’s and other people’s safety.
“Instead it appears that they acted in a heavy-handed manner simply because of Dr Taban’s ethnicity. This entire incident is actually unbelievable,” Coetzee said.
In addition to providing assistance to Taban, Sama has called on the TMPD and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to investigate this matter speedily, and to bring any officers guilty of contravening the regulations of their department to book.