NATIONAL NEWS - Mpumalanga police commissioner Lt-Gen Mark Magadlela issued a statement on Thursday to "put the record straight" on a story about a confrontation between himself and a reportedly errant fellow policeman.
Magadlela said the story had gone viral, vilifying his integrity and giving the impression he did not care about the welfare of a child, which was not actually involved in the tale as reported.
According to earlier reports, he came across a police van parked far away from its precinct while conducting surprise visits to police stations.
A child was reportedly in the car, and fisticuffs between himself and the constable ensued when he tried to take the van keys away.
Magadlela said in his statement on Thursday he had indeed come across a marked police vehicle belonging to Mhluzi police parked near a liquor outlet in Belfast.
He said he wanted to know what business the vehicle had in the area because the community often complained that police did not arrive when called out.
A man with beers in his hand approached the police vehicle from the passenger side. A woman was in the vehicle, not a child, he said, complaining that the commentary on the report had made him seem heartless.
Magadlela said he introduced himself as the provincial commissioner of Mpumalanga and asked why a state-owned vehicle was at a liquor outlet "far from where it belongs".
There were no fisticuffs, he said, but he did injure his finger when the constable tried to take the keys back from his boss. This was because they had been dangling over his finger when they were yanked.
The woman in the story just apologised and got out of the car.
Magadlela said he and a colleague followed the constable to his police station 60km away.
He said he was appointed by the national commissioner "with confidence" and was there to lead the police in the province.
"I am a disciplined police officer and I demand the same from my work force. I will not tolerate a situation whereby property available to the police in fighting crime to the benefit of the community is abused.
"I am also calling on the community to work with me during my term in identifying police vehicles that are being abused", said Magadlela.