Johannesburg - The hunt is on for a suspected policeman who allegedly sexually assaulted an Australian woman tourist in front of her partner and children.
The shocking attack on Jodie Davis took place just outside the OR Tambo International Airport.
Mpilwenhle Mthunzi, who is a British passport holder residing in Australia, has told of the alleged harrowing sexual assault experience his Australian partner, Davis, had to endure in front of their two sons last week.
Mthunzi said the family were on holiday in South Africa during the festive season until last week when their dream holiday was turned into a nightmare.
The distraught father said that after the family arrived in Joburg from Cape Town last week, they encountered a police roadblock outside the airport.
Mthunzi said an “aggressive” police officer approached their driver and allegedly threatened him and the family, telling them that he had their lives in his hands and that the “police were God”.
“At that point, he (the officer) proceeded to address my partner, who was sitting in the back seat with my two sons. He requested her to wind down her window and stated that the driver was his 'brother', but my partner was not his ‘sister’ as she was white.
“The officer engaged my nine-year-old son in the conversation and asked my partner if he could touch her hair. He remarked that he had never touched a white woman before and that he would love to marry one, one day. He proceeded to stroke her hair, shoulders and went on to fondle her breasts.”
Mthunzi said he and Davis were further angered by the bad treatment he said they received at Bedfordview Police station and OR Tambo police station when they reported their ordeal.
The family returned to Australia the day after their alleged ordeal, but the police supposedly told them they could not act on this case as the family were leaving the country.
“What has been of great disappointment to us has not only been the impunity with which the offending police officer carried out his abuse, but also the lethargy and outright unwillingness by the police to take the matter seriously,” Mthunzi asserted.
Police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Katlego Mogale confirmed that a case had been opened against a police official, without revealing his name, and said the allegations were under investigation.
“Footage has been accessed for the date and time of the incident… Should the member who the allegations are levelled against be found to have transgressed, the necessary processes will be activated,” Mogale said.
Asked how the family was doing, Mthunzi said it has been hard for the family, especially his nine-year-old son and Davis. “Jodie’s mood is low and she often breaks down in tears when she recalls the incident,” he said.
On whether the family will consider returning for a holiday, Mthunzi said they definitely will as they have family here, but added that their perception towards South Africa’s police will never be the same.
“This has been a very sad experience as it perpetuates and probably confirms the stereotype that South Africa is an unsafe country,” Mthunzi said.
The incident comes just a few weeks before the police top brass are due to present a report to Parliament regarding rogue cops in their ranks.
The portfolio committee on police has, since 2013, been pushing for the removal of more than 1 400 officers with criminal records from the SAPS.
These officers were fired in 2014 but they successfully challenged the decision in court.
However, the police appealed and the matter has not been finalised. Last year alone, more than 16 000 lawsuits were lodged against the police. – Additional reporting by Siyabonga Mkhwanazi.
* The couple permitted The Star to identify them.