Station commissioner Superintendent Chris Weitsz, of the Maletswai police station in Aliwal North, this week told of his humiliation and psychological breakdown after spending a night in a “cold and tiny cell that reeked of urine” – following his arrest for allegedly defeating the ends of justice, among other charges.
But Weitsz, a Police Star of the Year nominee this year, throughout the ordeal believed the charges were bogus. The case was set to continue in the Aliwal North Magistrate‘s Court on August 12, but all charges against him were dropped on Thursday afternoon. He has begun civil procedures against the police.
Both Weitsz and his lawyer were, until Thursday, still in the dark as they had not been given any details relating to the charges.
Weitsz, 43, said his “nightmare” began after he was told he would be transferred to the Kirkwood police station – even though he had led his station to become one of the province‘s best policemen in recent years.
He had opposed the transfer but, before getting to the bottom of why he was being moved, ended up in jail.
Weitsz said things began falling apart after his award nomination. On the Monday before the awards evening last Friday, he was told his nomination had been withdrawn and officers armed with R5 assault rifles arrested him in his office the next day.
Weitsz was taken to the Sterkstroom police station, more than 130km away, where he spent the night in a cell. “There was no warm water. There were cobwebs everywhere and the blankets smelled of rot. The whole cell reeked of urine.”
Being treated like a criminal after having dedicated his life to catching them “broke my spirit. After they closed the cell door behind them, I cried inside. I am a good person.”
Weitsz spent a sleepless night worrying about his three children, the youngest a few months old. “My eldest, who is four, cried and cried, asking where her daddy was. How can you explain something like this to a child?”
The next day he was taken back to Aliwal North where he appeared in court. He believes the charges against him were related to him allegedly freeing a man last year, but “no one has confirmed this; this is only the conclusions I‘ve drawn”.
Provincial police spokesman Director Marinda Mills said she did not have all the details of the case, but confirmed it was “work-related”.
Weitsz‘s lawyer, Francois Swanepoel, said they were busy preparing a civil suit. He added that provisional commissioner Mpumelelo Landu – who Weitsz had dealt with regarding his transfer – had wanted bail conditions to include taking up a position at Kirkwood. The magistrate rejected this, but approved bail of R5000.
Weitsz has been booked off due to stress and referred to a psychiatric hospital in Bloemfontein.
Source: The Herald Online