The policeman who pulled over Winnie Madikizela-Mandela's driver for speeding and reckless driving has had both criminal and disciplinary charges laid against him by his bosses.
Warrant Officer Jannie Odendaal, who was allegedly roughed up by Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguard, had his service pistol and police-issue cellphone confiscated yesterday morning - without formal notification or an explanation from his superiors.
Odendaal believes he is being victimised for "merely doing my job" and because he spoke to the media about an incident involving a high-profile politician.
He maintains that he was told the charges against him would be dropped if he apologised to Madikizela-Mandela. But police spokesman Colonel Neville Malila denied that Gauteng police commisioner, General Mzwandile Petros, had met Odendaal and his partner at the time of the incident and had advised them to apologise to Madikizela-Mandela.
Malila, who confirmed the charges against the two officers, also denied that Petros intended apologising to Madikizela-Mandela on behalf of the police.
"The police are not supposed to be political," Odendaal said yesterday.
"We are supposed to uphold law and order in this country and not be bullied because of a person's stature."
Madikizela-Mandela, the former wife of struggle icon and former president Nelson Mandela, is a member of the ANC's powerful national executive committee and an MP.
Odendaal's nightmare started when he and his partner stopped Madikizela-Mandela's car on the M1 North in Johannesburg, near the Xavier Road off-ramp, on December 30 because the vehicle was being driven "recklessly with its hazard lights on" at about 150km/h.
The officers followed the "suspicious" silver Audi A6, which had tinted windows.
Odendaal said he was pushed and yelled at by Madikizela-Mandela's bodyguard when he approached the car.
"He screamed at me: 'Who do you think you are?'."
Odendaal said he and the bodyguard exchanged words, with Odendaal warning the bodyguard that, if he touched him again, he would shock him with an electronic stunner.
Madikizela-Mandela allegedly yelled at Odendaal: "Who the f*&k do you think you are?"
The incident has been kept under wraps for the past two weeks but was exposed yesterday by the media.
Odendaal, who has been a policeman for almost 20 years, was this week given a week's sick leave because he is "not in a state to work following everything that has happened".
He has been transferred to the Soweto flying squad, which is based about 70km from his Brakpan home. His partner, a black officer who lives in Soweto, has been transferred to the East Rand.
"I'm extremely disappointed at the way this matter is being handled. I am now being punished for doing my job. This is ridiculous," he said.
Odendaal has now learned that charges of pointing a firearm and of common assault have been preferred against him and his partner.
"This is all a sick joke," he said.
To add insult to injury, Odendaal said he and his partner had been "advised" by Petros to apologise to Madikizela-Mandela, after which she would drop all charges against them.
He said he and his partner were told that Petros would accompany them to a meeting with Madikizela-Mandela.
"No one is above the law. She must apologise to me; I was just doing my job," Odendaal said.
Madikizela-Mandela could not be reached for comment yesterday.
The incident has angered political parties and civil rights groups.
The DA's Gauteng spokesman for safety and security in the provincial legislature, Kate Lorimer, yesterday lodged a formal complaint with the Independent Complaints Directorate, requesting an independent investigation into the matter.
Lorimer said it was a "major concern" that Madikizela-Mandela's version of events, and that of her bodyguard, were given more credence than the accounts of veteran police officers.
She questioned Petros's proposed apology.
"Madikizela-Mandela is a member of parliament and is not, by virtue of this fact, above the law," said Lorimer.
AfriForum's Nantes Kelder condemned proposals of an apology by the policemen, saying it would not be good for police morale.
"This action sends a very negative message to all [police officers] and henceforth they will hesitate to take action because of fear of victimisation.
"It was unacceptable that [police officers] who had done their best for the police for years had to be bullied into apologising."
Could this be racist and another of our goverment ministers using there position to get out of trouble? The whole blue light brigade is becoming pathetic and darn annoying to us small folk or everyday citizens