Woman, mother pepper sprayed by SAPS officer while trying to report rape

Woman, mother pepper sprayed by SAPS officer while trying to report rape

Over the weekend, a 25-year-old woman was allegedly raped in Langa, Western Cape. Her traumatic experience was made all the more worse when she and her mother experienced untold cruelty at the hands of the police officers who were supposed to help her. 

The woman said that after having been raped by a family friend on Saturday 27 June, her mother escorted her to the Langa Police Station, where she tried to open a case with the on-duty South African Police Service (SAPS) officers, but was ignored, treated harshly, and ultimately assaulted and pepper-sprayed. 

This is the second allegation in under a week relating to police misconduct following attempts by victims of gender-based violence (GBV) to open cases against male perpetrators in the Western Cape, with another victim turned away by Khayelitsha SAPS officers on 25 June.

Officer allegedly pepper-sprays women reporting rape

IOL reported that the victim had said she and her mother had been told to wait for a prolonged period of time before being helped. 

“When we went to the police station, they said I must sit down and I said I can’t as I was feeling uncomfortable,” she said. 

“Then they said I must go wait outside. There I met a lady who was reporting a case of domestic abuse and as I was chatting to her, a cop came and grabbed my phone and pepper-sprayed me.”

She said that her mother was also assaulted when she jumped in to help her distressed daughter. 

“My mother came to intervene and before she even got the words to ask why he was doing that, he turned and pepper-sprayed her,” she said.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Noloyiso Rwexana said that the 25-year-old woman should open a case of police misconduct with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) after the incident, and said that a case of rape had indeed been opened. 

“A rape investigation was opened by the police,” she said. “The complainants are advised to report the matter of being assaulted and pepper-sprayed to the station commander, so that the matter can be investigated by Ipid.”

DA condemn rising reports of SAPS assaults  

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Western Cape condemned the incident and said that even allegations to the effect that police in the province are not taking GBV seriously enough should be dealt with in the most urgent manner possible. 

DA Western Cape spokesperson on Community Safety, Reagen Allen, said that the matter had indeed been referred to Ipid for investigation. 

“Although the case is still under investigation, it must be condemned with the utmost contempt, as even the slightest notion of misconduct by police officers deteriorates safety responses in the Western Cape,” he said. 

“We are running out of time on addressing these concerns and victims are suffering at the hands who are to keep them safe. 

Torture and assault by police officers has increased by 24% since 2017, he said, and he lamented an atrocious record of reported assaults and torture by SAPS members, with 70% of the 5 829 complaints brought against SAPS to the Ipid in 2018 relating to assault and torture.

He said that he had personally reached out to the women to ensure that they were now on course to receive justice for the atrocities committed against them. 

“The DA in the Western Cape pledges it support to all victims of violence and will not allow systemic failures to further jeopardise safety and cripple the course of justice.”  

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