The women’s restroom at Mitchell Park where the incident allegedly took place. Picture: TST

Durban - A fun day out with friends recently turned into a teenager’s worst nightmare when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a homeless man at the Mitchell Park toilets in Morningside, on Durban’s Berea.

It is alleged the 16-year-old girl went to the restroom and a man, wearing worn-out jeans and a shirt, grabbed her by the hair and groped her private parts, while holding a knife to her neck.

A group of cleaners disturbed him and he ran off.

The teen’s mother, who cannot be named to protect the minor child, said: “We’ve been going there for birthday parties and picnics for years. My daughter loved riding her bike there.

The park is now not as safe as we would like it to be. Parents need to be careful. My child was attacked by a man who used his strength to overpower her. He changed her life in moments.”

The traumatised youngster has demanded justice.

“No one should have to go through something like this. People need to know that men like this cannot get away unpunished. I just hope the police care enough to act.”

She is undergoing counselling to help her deal with the trauma.

The 45-year-old Mayville mother said arrangements had been made for her daughter to spend the morning with friends at the park.

“I dropped her off at 9.30am and arranged to pick her up a few hours later,” said the mother.

After visiting the zoo, the friends bought something to drink at the park’s restaurant and the teen then needed to use the bathroom.

As she was heading back to rejoin her friends, she saw the man standing inside the restroom.

He allegedly grabbed her by her hair and put a knife to her throat.

“He cut her on the shoulder and her neck, dropped her bra and groped her before touching her over her clothes. Thankfully, he was spooked by a group of female cleaners and ran off,” said her mom.

Her friend’s mother comforted her at the restaurant.

“When I heard she was assaulted, I was horrified,” said the victim’s mother.

“She was distraught and shaking like a leaf. She was also having trouble breathing. All she wanted to do was to go home. My husband and I took her home and contacted a private doctor.”

The doctor gave the emotional teen a tetanus injection and some medication to help calm her down.

They were unable to open a case that day, said the mother. She said they went to a local police station, but the police allegedly took too long to attend to them and they left. The mother said they would try again after they received a response from police management over their treatment at the station.

Crime-fighters from the Tactical Shooting Team and personnel from Nkosi Security scoured the area looking for the suspect.

The Mitchell Park board declined to comment, saying the municipality was mandated to deal with enquiries of this nature.

However, the city’s Gugu Sisilana said the alleged incident was a criminal matter that needed to be directed to the police for comment.

SAPS Lieutenant Colonel Thulani Zwane said they would investigate once a case had been opened.

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