November 26 marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence. It is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Police officers in Cape Town did not receive this memo.
Only two hours into this landmark day, I was out with my teammates celebrating our success in the 202km Coronation Double Century Cycle Race. An altercation inside a bar had erupted, but having seen blue lights patrolling the area, I felt certain that police would intervene in what was at that point an argument between two men.
However, despite the best efforts of my teammates to de-escalate the situation, I had the contents of a bottle thrown in my face. “I’m not fighting with you,” I said. My hair was pulled. I ignored it.
An officer (name withheld) shouted from a distance. I walked away. I felt a blow strike the side of my head and heard the shattered glass fall around my feet. The officer asked if I was okay as blood ran down my face.
My teammates were understandably angry, but I reassured them that the police would intervene. However, the officer and his colleagues were unmoved. Confused by their inertia, I asked why they weren’t doing anything despite being eye-witnesses. The officer told me not to make him the guilty one.