An engineering student from Northlink College was allegedly badly beaten by a policeman after being falsely accused of attempted robbery.

The student, Joshua van Balla, 18, will have to undergo surgery on his eye after he was attacked, apparently by a policeman in Van der Stel in Somerset West. The attack apparently continued at the Strand police station to which he was taken.

Van Balla’s fuming father, Graham, said he could not believe it when he saw his son.

He believes the attack was racially motivated because the real perpetrator of the robbery was white, and ran to the white policeman after being confronted over the robbery.

Van Balla’s 16-year-old friend said they had been walking together when she was almost robbed by a male “who looked like a druggie”.

“I was going to the store with Joshua when a guy approached us and tried to rob me. Joshua is the one who fought the white male who tried to rob me. Neighbourhood watch people came and as we were explaining to them what was happening a police van arrived. The guy who tried to rob me ran to the white policeman, the policeman did not ask questions, he just started beating Joshua.”

Van Balla said his son had bruises on his body and his eye was swollen.

“When we went to fetch my son, the police refused to release him, and I could not believe that my son was hurt badly like that. The policeman is racist, because I heard he was shouting racial remarks while boxing him. The doctor said my son might undergo further surgery after he had some on Tuesday.”

He said a case of assault had been opened.

Shanaaz Salie, the deputy chairperson of the Strand Police Forum, who witnessed the assault with three colleagues, said they would take the case further.

“As the Strand Police forum we want to take this matter further to higher authorities; we begged the policeman to stop beating the innocent man, but he did not listen to us.”

Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said: “We do not support police brutality, even if a person is guilty. The complainant must approach the Strand police station management to report the incident for further investigation.”