Pretoria’s popular Legends nightclub – celebrating its first birthday – was raided by police this weekend. The large raiding team, consisting of well-armed police officers in riot gear, and crime scene investigators, caused havoc among the few hundred partygoers.

The police made their move on Legends just after 12am at the height of the club’s anniversary celebrations. The house lights were switched on and music turned off as scores of armed officers burst into the venue, shouting for patrons to drop to the floor – at times physically forcing people’s head down.

After they took up positions around the dance floor, sniffer-dogs were brought into the club in an attempt to find illegal substances. After an hour and a half of waiting on the floor, the partygoers were searched individually as they were let out the venue. They were then forced to wait outside for another hour, while the search continued inside.

After the police left – to much cheering by the crowd – the party continued, with most of the patrons choosing to return to the celebration. Many however were distressed and upset at the events.

“It was absolutely excessive”, said one unnamed man. “They burst in there like they were raiding a huge drug warehouse – totally over the top”, said another. “It was like they were trying to be like CSI Miami”, he added. At no point did the authorities address the crowd, or inform them of procedures, their rights or what was to take place.

Mambaonline, which was attending the party, attempted to take pictures of the raid, but was stopped by an official, who threatened to confiscate our camera after a picture was taken. “So much for freedom of the press”, laughed one man bitterly.

Attempts to talk to the officers by Mambaonline to ascertain who was in charge were ignored. A handful of patrons were led away by police, but at this time it is unknown if any arrests were formally made.

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