Pretoria - A police officer who allegedly made derogatory remarks about a recruit’s attire, skin colour and weight during a parade is due to be prosecuted on charges of crimen injuria.
The Prosecuting Authority has finally decided to prosecute the SAPS general following the intervention of AfriForum.
It is claimed that the woman general humiliated 53-year-old Captain Riana Stander (previously Viviers) and others in 2016.
The incident is said to have taken place in November 2016 when the general – who cannot be identified at this stage – visited the SAPS Academy in Oudtshoorn.
According to AfriForum, the general instructed Stander and others to stand on the stage and in front of about 450 recruits.
She allegedly made derogatory remarks about Stander’s attire, weight and the colour of her skin.
This was met with applause and cheers from the rest of the recruits.
It is claimed that the general then remarked that “the stage was too white”.
Stander opened a case against the officer in November 2016.
AfriForum said due to the trauma and stress brought about by this incident, Stander had been declared medically unfit to serve and is thus no longer employed by the SAPS.
After Solidarity put pressure on the SAPS, an internal disciplinary hearing was held in 2018 regarding the conduct of the general.
The finding was that the comments made toward Stander and other officials were racist as well as derogatory and discriminatory.
The general was subsequently dismissed in 2019 after she was found to be a dishonest and unreliable witness.
The finding and sanction, however, were overturned during an arbitration process and the general has returned to the SAPS.
The Prosecuting Authority refused to prosecute her criminally, and AfriForum’s private prosecution unit was approached by Solidarity and Stander in 2019 to assist.
AfriForum said: “The Director of Public Prosecutions in Cape Town initially, and in writing, indicated that there was no prima facie proof of crimen injuria.
"However, when the AfriForum unit in July 2019 requested a nolle prosequi certificate on behalf of Stander to privately prosecute, the prosecution simply failed to comply with the legislation that compels it to issue such if the State decides not to prosecute.”
Finally, after many letters and pressure on the prosecuting authority, it agreed in March this year to prosecute the general.
“In the same letter, the Director of Public Prosecutions indicated to the private prosecution unit that the office would contact the complainant (Stander) should her evidence be required in court.
“It is unclear if any further steps were taken to ensure the appearance of the suspect in court, but the witnesses were neither informed nor consulted with,” AfriForum said.
Advocate Phyllis Vorster, prosecutor at AfriForum’s private prosecution unit, said it seemed that both the SAPS and the Prosecuting Authority tried to delay the prosecution of the accused “with the supposed eventual aim of making this matter disappear altogether”.
“The SAPS, for example, dragged its feet in providing the docket to the complainant, and the prosecution’s refusal and reluctance to issue a nolle prosequi certificate is telling. We will continue to monitor the case to ensure that a prosecution does indeed ensue,” Vorster said.
Stander, meanwhile, said she was elated that the case would finally be brought to court. “I am confident that justice will finally be done,” she said.
The Prosecuting Authority, however, has not yet provided a date for when the general will appear in court.