The unnamed officer was spotted slumped over the wheel with a cider bottle between his legs and his car's blue lights flashing
The picture that has been circulating on social media
police are facing embarrassment after pictures of one of their officers slumped unconscious at the wheel of a police car with a bottle of cider between his legs were circulated on Facebook over the weekend.
The constable, who has not been named, was spotted in an upmarket suburb in the city of Pietermaritzburg by a man taking his son to a school sports event early on Saturday morning.
Ben Heydenrych said he was concerned for the well-being of the officer since the police van’s blue lights were flashing and he was unresponsive.
“The window was open and I could see a head through the window. I reversed and shouted loudly three or four times,” he wrote on Facebook.
“After I didn’t receive a response I climbed out of my vehicle and approached the van. I thought that he could have been dead or even shot himself. When I got close the passenger door was open and I could see a Savannah (cider) bottle that was one-third full, between his legs.”
Mr Heydenrych said he called the police but before they arrived, two other men approached the car. He said the pair shouted at the man and slapped him to try to wake him. He said they eventually roused the officer by pouring the half-empty bottle over his head.
He claimed that a few minutes later, the policeman started the car and drove away.
“You get good policemen and you get bad policemen, but this is just ridiculous,” Mr Heydenrych said. “For someone to be drunk at that part of the morning and be in that condition and parked off like that as a policeman, in a police vehicle, you would have to be partying right through the night. Policemen are supposed to serve and protect.”
Dianne Kohler Barnard, the opposition Democratic Alliance’s shadow police minister, said she had referred the matter to the police watchdog.
“This police officer had a firearm on his hip. Anyone could have reached in and grabbed it,” she said.
A police spokesman said the officer would be disciplined. “Such behaviour is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated as it brings the image of the organisation into disrepute,” he said.