Gender-based violence hits Tsomo police

A case of common assault is under investigation after an alleged altercation between two officers stationed in Tsomo, 260km north east of East London in the Eastern Cape. Photo by Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

A disagreement over the use of a vehicle led to a male officer assaulting a female officer at Tsomo police station.

As the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence comes to an end, in the Eastern Cape, police are investigating an assault case against a male captain in Tsomo Police Station. The case was opened by a sergeant last month accusing her captain of physical assaulting her at work. The incident is said to have happened in full view of colleagues and community members who were passing the police station.

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Thembinkosi Kinana said a case of common assault is being investigated after an alleged altercation between the two officers in Tsomo Police Station. He said no arrest has been made and the investigation continues.

This Elitsha reporter received a call from a male colleague who witnessed the incident and said he was among the people who helped the female sergeant while the station captain was busy punching her. It appeared to him, who we will name Bulumko, that the two officers were fighting over keys to a police van, which had remained parked at the station for weeks because a tyre had a puncture.

Bulumko said the female sergeant (who asked that her name not be used to protect her family) used her own money to have the tyre fixed. “I was one of the people who watched her fixing a state car. Some were even laughing at her because we all knew that she was not going to be refunded for that,” said Bulumko

He said when the van started working everyone wanted to use it. “On that day it was on Wednesday, if I’m not mistaken. The sergeant booked the van to go to town. I’m not sure if she was following a case or she was going there just to patrol. A male officer also asked to use the same van to go to one of the villages,” said Bulumko. The problem started when the sergeant refused to hand over the keys and told the male colleague she had already booked the car.

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“They started arguing about that, the sergeant kept on saying she was going to be fast in town and return the car. The matter was then taken to the captain at the same time as the sergeant was already in the car ready to go,” said Bulumko. The captain then came out of the office and ordered the sergeant to give him the keys and that the sergeant should walk to town since it was the closest. She promptly switched off the engine and put the keys in her pocket.

Bulumko said the sergeant told them that she wanted to explain what was happening to the captain. “Unfortunately for her, no questions were asked. He grabbed her looking for the keys; that was when he started punching,” he said. “We rushed to rescue her, four of us males. To be honest I don’t know what made the captain so angry to even raise his hand on a woman. Sergeant left the station bleeding and her uniform was torn apart. The way she was crying I felt it and captain didn’t care; he kept on swearing at her before he went back to his office.”

The two officers are still at the station working together.

Speaking to Elitsha, the sergeant confirmed the incident but asked not to talk about it. “Sisi I’m a mother and a wife. My husband is also a police officer at another station. I’m sure you understand how embarrassing this is and the trauma I have to go through every day going to work. Sad part about this is there are people who are laughing at me till this day at work and I have to act brave,” she said.

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Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesperson, Grace Langa said IPID is not aware of the matter. Eastern Cape Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson, Xolani Prusente said they are also not aware of this case. He said Popcru is only made aware of cases when one of their members is charged departmentally and approaches them for assistance in a disciplinary hearing.

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