November 10 2009 at 07:12AM
By Graeme Hosken
Allegedly raped in a police station toilet, turned away from laying a charge at another police station and then refused help by a district surgeon - a Pretoria mother is now asking whether she will ever see justice.
After police dragged their heels for nearly a month, the 29-year-old mother and her attorney, in desperation, turned to the police watchdog, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD).
While suspects have been arrested, the woman and her attorney, who commended the watchdog for the arrests, claim they are bungling the identification parade - a vital part of the investigation - by causing unnecessary delays.
'I knew I was going to be hurt'
The Rustenburg policeman, along with three of his colleagues, were arrested on Friday, three weeks after the ICD's investigation began. They were arrested after they apparently refused to appear in an identification parade
The receptionist's nightmare began on September 29 when she was arrested on charges of stealing her former fiance's fishing rods.
The charges were withdrawn the following morning, in what the woman believes was an attempt by her ex-fiance to prevent her from attending a custody hearing for their 18-month-old son.
Clutching her mother's hand tightly, the petite Hercules woman, who recently received death threats, yesterday described how a policeman beat her, forced her to remove her pants and panties before he raped her, while his colleagues allegedly sat in a nearby office ignoring her screams for help.
Breaking down in tears, the woman, supported by her mother and attorney, Delia de Vries, described her ordeal.
'When the policeman came in behind me I knew I was going to be raped'
It started when two female cellmates were transferred to another police station.
"I knew I was going to be hurt. When I saw them go I knew that it was just a matter of time before they did something to me," she said, recalling how a policeman had earlier ordered her to use a neighbouring male detainee's cellphone to phone her family to tell them to bring R200 hidden in a packet of soup if she did not want to be attacked.
The woman said the attack happened just after 8pm when she asked to go to the toilet.
"When the policeman came in behind me I knew I was going to be raped. He pushed me against the wall, beat me, forced me to take off my pants and panties and raped me," the crying woman said.
"When he finished, he pulled up his pants, told me to get dressed and come outside. He took me back to my cell and then left me," she said.
Unable to wash herself, the woman was forced to sit in her cell until the following morning, when she was taken to the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court, where the charges were withdrawn.
She went to the Tlhabane police station to lay a charge, but instead of receiving assistance, she was forced to leave when a policewoman, hearing that she had been raped by a policeman, suddenly told her that the station's computer system was down and she could not be helped.
The traumatised woman said she went to the Hercules police station in Pretoria, close to where she lives, where officers told her to go to a district surgeon so that the necessary medical reports could be completed.
Once again the woman was turned away.
"When I explained what happened, the district surgeon told me to leave," she said.
The woman finally received medical attention at Netcare 911's Akasia Hospital, where she was put on antiretroviral medication.
De Vries, criticising the way the ICD handled the identification parades, said: "They were not prepared for the parades, which have twice been postponed. The parades were a complete charade, with the last one, which was meant to have taken place on Friday, being fundamentally flawed, and once again postponed," she said, adding that her client would have had to physically identify her attacker by touching him on the shoulder, which was inhumane, given the circumstances of the attack.
"We have now been told there will be another identity parade on Wednesday, but have no information on the time or place."
ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini hit back.
"The investigation was started the day after the case was received. We are satisfied with the work we have done and we dispute, categorically, that the ICD delayed or bungled the case," he said.
North West Public Safety MEC Howard Yawa said: "Police stations are supposed to be places of safety for the weak and vulnerable, therefore the occurrence of a despicable and heinous crime at a police station, allegedly committed by a member of the police service, is deplorable."
National police spokesman Lindela Mashigo, commenting on the woman being turned away, said there was no reason for the victim to have been refused assistance and "sent from pillar to post".
"We have responsibilities as police when it comes to reported sexual offences, which include treating the victim with respect and dignity, and informing them of their right to lay a charge."
He declined to comment on the alleged rape because the ICD is investigating the case.
This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on November 10, 2009