DURBAN - Nongoma police are investigating a case of rape after a woman was allegedly raped and threatened inside the KwaHlabisa police station more than two months ago.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Nqobile Gwala said: “We can confirm the incident that took place on January 15, 2022, at 8pm at Hlabisa where a 36-year-old woman was allegedly threatened and raped by a known suspect.”
“A case of rape was opened at Nongoma police station for investigation. The matter was reported to the police on March 30, 2022.”
News of the rape was brought to light by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Social Development on Wednesday after the victim appealed for help on a Nongoma community radio station.
The woman had an argument with her boyfriend, who forced her to leave the house. The woman approached the police to plead with them to rescue her, and a police vehicle was dispatched to fetch her the next day.
While she was in the police station, it is alleged that one police officer, who was on duty, started harassing her, demanding sex. The officer allegedly stopped when he saw a fellow police officer approaching them. When the other cop returned to his vehicle, the officer remaining in the community service centre raped the woman. It is alleged that the officer threatened to shoot the victim with a service pistol should she scream or report the rape case.
On Thursday, DA Social Development spokesperson Mmabatho Tembe said the DA was disturbed by reports of the alleged rape.
“As much as the DA in KZN is happy with the swift action of the MEC of Social Development, in this case, we believe that there need to be more interventions from social development within areas that have high numbers of gender-based violence (GBV),” Tembe said.
She said the scourge of GBV in KZN was still a very long way from being dealt with properly. “The third quarter crime statistics in our province illustrate this clearly, with 2 066 people raped in our province during this three month period.
“The DA reiterates that the provincial government needs to prioritise victim support units in police stations. They need to be adequately equipped to deal with victims, and police officers need to all receive GBV training,” Tembe said.
“To take advantage of a vulnerable and traumatised woman is not only horrific but also speaks to a culture of impunity and aggression.”
On Wednesday, MEC Nonhlanhla Khoza had said the incident left her shocked and disgusted.
“It is very disappointing that the people who are mandated by law to protect the victim ended up inflicting more pain on her. Such officers are an embarrassment to our society and must be treated as the criminals that they are,” Khoza said.
She said she was shocked that an officer of the law could have the audacity to rape a victim of gender-based violence and then threaten to kill her if she tried to report the case.
“Our team of social workers is going to help the victim to open a case, and we will see to it that the matter is thoroughly investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, but in the meantime, police management should take action against the accused officer,” Khoza said.
The MEC said she wanted to see the KZN police management institute an internal disciplinary process against the officer in question.
“If we were to be serious about fighting gender-based violence, we can't let such cases be ignored,” Khoza said.
She said she would be in contact with her counterparts, Department of Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and Police Minister Bheki Cele, to intervene in this case.
The MEC sent a team of social workers to help the victim open a rape case since she’d been told by police at Mtubatuba that she could not open it there but needed to report it to management at KwaHlabisa where the alleged rape took place.
“Our social workers will meet the victim so she can provide more details of her ordeal. They will also administer psycho-social support and prepare her to register a case with solid evidence to secure a conviction in court,” Khoza added.