The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) will be protesting outside the SAHRC’s office today to compel it to investigate the steps and causes leading to the death of Robyn Montsumi in the custody of Mowbray Police. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) will be protesting outside the SAHRC’s office today to compel it to investigate the steps and causes leading to the death of Robyn Montsumi in the custody of Mowbray Police. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

SWEAT tackles commission over sex worker’s death

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Oct 29, 2020

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Cape Town - The City of Cape Town will conduct an internal investigation into the alleged involvement of two law enforcement officers in the assault of sex worker Robyn Montsumi, who died in custody at Mowbray police station.

The Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) members protested outside the Cape Town offices of the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), calling for an investigation into Montsumi’s death on April 12.

SWEAT said that, according to witness statements, on April 9, Montsumi was allegedly physically assaulted by two City law enforcement officers.

She was then allegedly unlawfully physically searched and taken to Mowbray police station.

Montsumi was reportedly found dead in her cell on April 12.

While the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) in June confirmed it was investigating her death, the City yesterday said the incident was brought to their attention on Wednesday morning and would be following it up.

City executive director for safety and security Richard Bosman said: “An investigation will be conducted internally and by the SAPS.”

In a statement, SWEAT said that the first report on Montsumi’s arrest and death was submitted to the SAHRC by one of their monitors on May 13.

After the submission of the report, SAHRC commissioner Chris Nissen communicated with the monitor stating that a meeting would be arranged, however there has been no feedback since.

SWEAT said that on August 28, it had submitted a complaint to the SAHRC detailing the information that had been received from the witnesses to Montsumi’s arrest.

In a memorandum of demands, SWEAT requests intervention from the SAHRC to ensure that an independent investigation is conducted.

“We demand that actions should be taken and feedback provided to SWEAT by November 15 failing which SWEAT will continue with protest action to raise awareness regarding the manner that the SAHRC has neglected its mandate in this regard.”

Nissen refuted allegations that no action or engagements had taken place with SWEAT.

He added that he had personally attempted to track down Montsumi’s family in Mowbray, had been directed to Bishop Lavis, and later Mitchells Plain, with little success.

“Because the death occurred in a police cell, Ipid is investigating and we are monitoring that investigation. I will find out where the (SWEAT) complaint is.

“I will engage with SWEAT. We appreciate the fact that SWEAT can come to discuss matters. They are our partners,” Nissen said.

Ipid had not responded to questions by deadline.

Cape Times

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