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‘Police brutality’ under spotlight

A Gordon’s Bay police spokesperson confirmed a case of assault is being investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), after a local resident allegedly became the victim of police brutality and gender-based violence.

The 60-year-old woman spoke out about the incident on Facebook, publishing details in her post last Wednesday (22 July).

She claims to have been assaulted by a male police officer during a visit to the Gordon’s Bay Police Station for assistance with filing an interim protection order at 13:30 on Tuesday (21 July). The officer allegedly told her she was asking illegal questions and would be arrested despite having proof of relevant documentation and IDs.

On requesting his assistance the police officer allegedly started shouting at her and then physically attacked her. He apparently shouldered her with his full weight and grabbed her right breast when she stumbled, hurling her upwards and shouldering her again when she resisted the attack.

This apparently happened in front of his colleagues, who laughed at the incident, calling her “mlungu”.

Despite yelling for help, allegedly none of the officers assisted her in any way. She had visible scratches and was in extreme pain, apparently suffering from a ruptured breast prosthetic. After apparently lifting her torn T-shirt under a waist jacket in an office, the officer allegedly proceeded to yell at her and threatened to arrest her for public indecency.

Extremely traumatised she requested assistance with laying a charge of assault against the officer. With still no assistance and no-one coming to her aid the officer allegedly called for a female colleague, who apparently told her she is there to assist with her arrest. The officer allegedly took a video of her crying for help and kept telling her she was going to be arrested for exposing her body in public.

After 20 minutes of pleading for assistance the officer in charge and other officers were called in. A formal case was opened and she requested the services of a trauma counsellor.

According to the woman the officer was arrested and continued working at the front desk when she left the police station about two hours after the incident.

“I am very upset,” she said, fighting back tears in a telephonic interview with DistrictMail.

“I urgently need trauma counselling, which I was offered by police, but have still not received. I am battling to cope with what has happened and suffer terrible nightmares. I desperately need to talk to someone about it. Action needs to be taken against the police officer who attacked me; he must not be allowed to work with people.

“In my opinion the entire police station is ineffective, as no-one came to my aid or even tried to assist. Instead they laughed. And what’s worse is that he still working at the station, which scares me.”

After sending an enquiry to the provincial police media office and being requested to approach the local station directly, a Gordon’s Bay spokesperson was reached telephonically for comment.

“I can confirm a case of assault was registered at the Gordon’s Bay Police Station and is being investigated by Ipid,” a spokesperson for the directorate said. “Details, however, cannot be disclosed.”

In light of the incident, the Gordon’s Bay Residents’ Association shared a statement by the Gordon’s Bay Community Policing Forum (CPF) on Facebook, which said: “[Regarding] the police brutality and gender-based violence . . . reported on Facebook this week by a resident, we wish to advise that the necessary charges have been laid and the matter is being investigated.

“Until such time as the investigations are completed we are asking the public to refrain from [passing any] derogatory remarks against police and the person involved.”

The post further advised anyone with complaints about the station to lodge it with the CPF, which serves as an oversight body for the police, and report directly to the Cluster Commander, who will investigate all complaints received.

The CPF can be contacted at cpf.gordonsbay1@gmail.com or on 082 384 9699.

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