Not long ago Learn and Teach got a phone call from some lawyers. They said we must come to their offices. We went but we did not know why they wanted us.
When we got to their offices, they took us to a room. There was a man in the room. He was not sitting but he was not standing. He was half-lying in a chair. This was the only way he could rest his body.
The man lifted his shirt slowly to show us. We could not believe our eyes. His back was full of cuts and bruises, from his neck to his waist. He could not stand well because his hip was hurt. His hands were so swollen that they did not look like hands at all.
The lawyers called us to meet this man, Alfred Khasu. The lawyers and Alfred’s union CCAWUSA wanted the world to know – and see what had happened to Alfred. Alfred worked at Checkers. He drove one of their trucks for 20 years until Thursday 26th September this year.
On that Thursday, Alfred drove back to the Checkers warehouse in City Deep, Johannesburg. He was tired. He had driven around the whole day, taking goods to different Checkers shops – like he did every day.
When Alfred got out of his truck, a security guard called him. He told Alfred he wanted to see him In his office. But he didn’t take Alfred to his office. He took Alfred to his car. Then he drove Alfred to the Shield Security offices in Brixton – Checkers use Shield Security to watch for stealing.
Alfred tells us what happened at their offices.
“They took me inside. There were some men there. One man said that he was from Checkers. They asked me if I stole some video machines.
“When I said I knew nothing about the videos, one security man got very angry. He said that he would help me to remember.”
“This man took me into another office. He tied a piece of plastic around my mouth so that I could not scream. Then he handcuffed me tightly to a chair.”
And so Alfred’s nightmare began. The Shield Security man beat him and beat him. Then he stopped and asked about the videos. When Alfred said he still knew nothing, the man beat him some more.
Later the security man took Alfred to another room. This time he handcuffed Alfred to a cupboard. He left Alfred with another security guard. He told the guard to keep Alfred awake.
Every time Alfred started to sleep, the guard shouted at him. Some time during the night, another guard came. And the questions started again. This one told Alfred that he knew how to get people to talk.
By morning, Alfred was very tired and hungry. His body was sore all over. And his hands felt as if they would falloff. The guards came to fetch him.
Now they were nice. Did Alfred want some food, they asked. They gave him half a hamburger. They then offered Alfred R 1 000 to tell them about the videos. But again Alfred said he knew nothing. “So the beating started again,” says Alfred.
“They told me they had the whole day and night to beat me if I did not say what they wanted me to say.
“And that is what they did. The white guard started first. When he was tired he gave the sjambok to the black guard.”
Between the beatings, they asked about the videos. They told Alfred that he worked for a gang. But Alfred knew nothing about a gang. So they beat him some more. In the end, the guards broke Alfred. He said he would sign a statement.
The guards started to write the statement. Every time Alfred said no to something, the guards hit him hard. Alfred had to agree to everything. In the statement they said Alfred’s supervisor was helping him to steal.
When they finished the statement the guards asked Alfred why he didn’t tell them before – then they would not have beaten him. They offered him money to tell them more.
They took Alfred to the Kenilworth Police Station when they were finished.
They charged him with stealing. The police said he must come back to the police station on Monday morning. Before Alfred left, he saw his supervisor there. One police man called Alfred. He asked him why he wanted to get his boss into trouble.
Alfred did not go back to the police station that Monday morning. Nor did he go to work at Checkers. He went to his union instead.
Learn and Teach spoke to Alfred’s union, CCAWUSA They are very angry about Alfred’s beating. They said: “We told Alfred to go to the lawyers. We will fight his case in court. Our lawyers are charging Checkers and Shield Security with trying to murder Alfred.
“Our members will not stand for such bad treatment. If anyone is beaten like this again, our workers will act.”
We also phoned Shield Security and Checkers. We wanted to hear what they said about Alfred.
“We will help Alfred but we do not know what is happening. We have heard about his beating but we have not seen him. We are still paying his wages. We sent him a letter and a telegram asking him to come in.
But his lawyer doesn’t want us to see him.
We are still using Shield Security. We feel that it is wrong to fire a person or a company if you are not sure that they did wrong!”
“Yes, we know about Alfred Khasu. He didn’t follow the rules of his bosses. So his bosses called us to talk to him. We didn’t want to talk to him at work so we took him to our offices. Our talk with him took a long time.
It was late when we finished so he had to sleep here. He slept on a sofa in our office and we bought him lots of food, hamburgers, a roasted chicken and other things.
No one at Shield Security knows anything about Alfred’s beating. We are an old company. We have never beaten a person ever. We are the best security firm in the country.
Our guards only work five days a week, and not even one guard carries a sjambok. I think that Alfred is one of those people who likes to blame whites for every thing. That is why he said we beat him.”.