S.Africa president’s guards over-react to middle finger

JOHANNESBURG, (Reuters) – South African President  Jacob Zuma’s elite guards overstepped their authority when they  arrested and roughed up a student who they thought made an  obscene hand gesture, a government commission said yesterday.

Chumani Maxwele was arrested by guards brandishing assault  rifles who jumped out of a luxury sedan after the University of  Cape Town student gestured at siren-blaring vehicles that nearly  ran him over while he was jogging, witnesses told local media.

“The SA Human Rights Commission has found that members of  the Presidential Special Protection Unit have violated the  rights of Mr Chumani Maxwele,” the commission said of the  February 2010 incident.

“Members of the unit arrested and detained Mr Maxwele for  allegedly gesturing with his middle finger at a convoy of police  vehicles,” it said.

Maxwele told media he kept his middle finger under control  and was waving at the convoy to move on. He also said he was  assaulted by the guards who told him he had disrespected the  president.

The guards dubbed the “blue light bullies” by the main  opposition Democratic Alliance were accused by citizens in 2008  of firing shots at a motorist who did not get out of the way of  a presidential convoy quickly enough.

Separately, Zuma has filed a criminal suit against a man for  spilling a drink on the president at horse race.    (Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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