2007-01-17 : Woman in coma after alleged police beating

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2007-01-17 : Woman in coma after alleged police beating

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2007-01-17 11:11

Woman in coma after alleged police beating
Graeme Hosken
January 17 2007 at 04:44AM

A Pretoria woman is fighting for her life in hospital after being brutally assaulted by Sunnyside police officers.

The assault, part of which was photographed, involved plainclothes policemen attacking a prostitute.

Pretoria News photographer Herbert Matimba started photographing the attack but was forced to flee after police turned their attention to him.

He spent the night in hiding to prevent police confiscating his photographs.

'She was just hanging in his arms as he dragged her across the pavement' Paramedics, who rushed to attend to the woman who lost consciousness after an apparent "epileptic fit", were spotted carrying the woman's diminutive body on a stretcher to an ambulance - her blue sandals and pink handbag wedged beneath her feet.

Uche Kalu said he witnessed the attack on the woman outside Malet Flats where he lives.

"It was extremely brutal. I had just bought cigarettes from a vendor on the corner of Johann and Arcadia streets outside our block of flats, when I heard women screaming.

"As I turned around, I saw two policemen grabbing two women and throwing them to the ground before grabbing one of the women and pushing her into the back of the police van. As one of the policemen pushed the woman into the van the other tried to grab hold of the other woman, who began fighting back," said Kalu.

"That was when one of the policemen grabbed her by the head and began smashing her head against the van's back doors. The woman fell to the ground where she was kicked in the head and stomach.

'A policeman is meant to arrest criminals' "I could hear the policemen swearing before one of them picked her up and began strangling her.

"She was just hanging in his arms as he dragged her across the pavement and threw her against the van several times before she started convulsing and shaking," he said.

Kalu said that as people began screaming, a photographer began taking pictures.

"When the policemen saw him they told him to stop before trying to grab him. I yelled at him to run and he did. I do not know where he went but I could see the policemen searching all the flat floors, waking people up as they looked for him.

"It is ridiculous. A policeman is meant to arrest criminals. If someone is shooting at a policeman then they should shoot back but they have no right to beat up someone who is not threatening them."

Matimba's girlfriend, Mpule Mashiane, said she had been terrified.

"I heard Herbert park his car, but when he did not come inside, I went to look for him.

"As I opened the front door, there were two policemen and a policewoman standing outside.

"They pushed me aside and began opening cupboards and looking under the bed, screaming at me to tell them where Herbert was.

"When I said I did not know, they took my cellphone and tried to phone him and told me I must tell him to surrender and come with them to the police station.

"When I asked them what had happened they said he had taken an illegal photo of a 'patient' they were trying to help and that he must surrender or else they would arrest him," she said.

Nomsa Zulu, who hid Matimba, said she had been terrified and had not known what was happening.

"I was talking to friends when a photographer ran to us and pleaded for help.

"When he told us what happened I rushed him to my room.

"We could hear policemen walking up and down our passage banging on doors screaming for him to surrender.

"I was scared that they would find him and hurt him," said Zulu.

Tshwane Emergency Services spokesperson Johan Pieterse confirmed that medics had taken the seriously injured woman to Pretoria Academic Hospital after they received an anonymous telephone call for help saying that a woman was having an "epileptic fit".

A paramedic said the woman had suffered severe head, neck and internal injuries as well as severe bruising.

A Pretoria Academic Hospital nurse said the woman had sustained severe trauma as a result of a serious assault.

She said the injuries could not have been caused by an epileptic fit.

"It is as though someone has bashed her on the head with a heavy object," said the nurse.

Pretoria police spokesperson Inspector Anton Breedt said that the allegations of intimidation against Matimba would be investigated as well as any other wrongdoing which had led to the assault.

* This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on January 17, 2007
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2007-01-18 : 'Talk to the news and you die'

Postby GOSA » Thu, 2007-01-18 09:49


'Talk to the news and you die'

January 18 2007 at 06:45AM

By Graeme Hosken and Janine du Plessis

'If any of you speak to the Pretoria News, we'll kill you." This is what one of the policemen captured on film by the newspaper while beating a prostitute, 17, into a coma, allegedly told other prostitutes on, hours after the Pretoria News broke the story.

A woman, known as Judy, said following publication of the story, police had been out in force in Johann Street where Monday night's attack occurred, threatening to "deal with anyone who spoke to the media".

"These cops are serious. They will think nothing of taking us out. They can make us disappear and they will do it," she said.

'He would bliksem' us'

Judy is not the only sex worker running scared.

"When the police came around today they rounded us up. A policeman who beat the girl on Monday was waving the (Pretoria News) at us, saying that if he found out who spoke he would 'bliksem' us. He said they would beat the living crap out of us and make us regret the day for the rest of our lives," said Nololiso, another prostitute.

Judy said the police did what they wanted when they wanted. "To them you are their property. They own you and if you do not do what they tell you to do they f**k you up."

She said police drove in convoys targeting groups of sex workers at the same time.

A Pretoria police clerk, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that she feared for the safety of her daughter, who is a prostitute.

'Forcing them to have sex with them for years'

"I have not heard from her since the attack. I do not know where she is. I cannot reach her on the phone.

"I have opened numerous cases for her against policemen who have beaten her, but they all just simply disappear because of a lack of evidence.

"These cops are a mafia. They all work together. They rule the streets with an iron fist and they will think nothing of hurting and maiming these girls.

"It is no joke. This police brutality has to be stopped," she said.

Lebo, an Arcadia prostitute, said Sunnyside police had been harassing sex workers and forcing them to have sex with them for years.

"Before I leave at night, I know there is more chance of me being beaten up by the police than getting a bad client.

"We run away from them because we are scared, not because we don't want to be arrested," said Lebo. She said she was often forced to have sex with police, who regularly beat them up.

Lebo said police did not use marked vehicles, but were in police uniform. "They take off their name tags and this is why we can never identify them," she said.

"Police have kicked in my door and searched my flat with no warrant. This is an excuse to steal my cellphone and other items.

"If they can catch us they beat us and always take our money," she said. Officers also "charged" them R300 not to be arrested, she said.

"There are no records of the arrest and we don't sign anything."

The retribution is going to be severe, say street social workers and policemen trying to help protect sex workers.

"The police are going to be aggressive ... and vicious," said Jane Mashiane, a Lerato House outreach co-ordinator.

Mashiane, who fears for her own safety when she works with the prostitutes on the streets, said: "I am worried.

"I've warned the women that police have seen the article and will be more aggressive. I told them to be careful."

She said it was sad that these women were petrified of police.

A Sunnyside police officer, who asked to remain anonymous, said the bribery of sex workers was rife.

"They bribe with the promise of protection.

"They do so because it is easy money and they know there will be no comebacks," he said. Police from all over Pretoria CBD were involved in the prostitution racketeering industry, he claimed.

"It is a small mafia. Often the corrupt policemen and women, who are not only from Sunnyside police station but also Pretoria Central, Pretoria West and Brooklyn police stations, act as pimps.

"As pimps they provide transport, ensure the women are not arrested if raids are being carried out and protect them if they are being intimidated by other police officers or pimps," the officer said.

A Pretoria Central policewoman said it was common to find police transporting prostitutes. "If we stop them and ask them where they are going they tell us they have arrested them.

But more often than not you know that they are being transported to their next client or to a quiet spot to perform a quick trick for that policeman," she said.

The policewoman said those members involved in the extortion rackets could make thousands of rands a month as a result of their acting as pimps.

"It is an extremely lucrative business with police often demanding more than 60 percent of the prostitute's night takings.

o This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on January 18, 2007
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2007-01-22 : Police hit me with batons, claims sex worker

Postby GOSA » Mon, 2007-01-22 10:12

Police hit me with batons, claims sex worker
Graeme Hosken
January 22 2007 at 04:33AM

All a young Pretoria prostitute remembers is her head being smashed into a police van.

Minutes later, Pretoria News photographer Herbert Matimba would shoot the picture that has sparked a national outcry - a young prostitute lying bloodied on her back, her arms outstretched as police look on.

On Sunday, the young woman finally found the courage to come out of hiding and make a statement to provincial organised crime unit commander Director Simon Mapyane, who is heading the investigation into the alleged attack by Sunnyside police.

It has since emerged that last Monday's attack was the second by police on her in 48 hours.

'I am really scared and I want to go home to my mother'

The first police attack, which was inadvertently revealed by National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi on Friday when he handed out the woman's medical report at a South African National Editors Forum (Sanef) meeting, occurred last Saturday when she was allegedly attacked by the same police officials while walking to her Arcadia flat.

Selebi was disputing Monday's attack as an "absolute thumb-suck" because the woman had never been in a coma, but had in fact been pepper-sprayed by police. She had been treated for irritation to her eyes.

The medical report, a copy of which is in the Pretoria News' possession, clearly shows that the woman was treated on Saturday at the Tshwane District Hospital for pepper-spray irritation to her eyes.

In Saturday's attack, she was indeed sprayed with pepper-spray and hit with a baton when she would not co-operate with police and climb into the back of their state vehicle, she told the Pretoria News on Sunday.

In Monday's attack, the woman was allegedly on her way to visit a friend when she was attacked by three policemen and a policewoman while walking along Johann Street.

'They cannot be allowed to do this'

She was repeatedly hit and violently dragged out from below a police van after crawling under it to escape the police.

The woman, who is in her late teens, said on Sunday that she was terrified and could not stay in Pretoria any more.

"I am scared. I am really scared and I want to go home to my mother," said the woman after writing a four-page statement recounting both Saturday and Monday's attacks.

She said that she wanted those who had hurt her to be dealt with.

"They must be locked up. They cannot be allowed to do this.

"I have not hurt these police. I do not even know them and do not know what they want with me.

"I am scared that they will kill me. I do not want to die," she said.

Recalling what she could of the attack, she said a man had grabbed her from behind and began screaming at her.

"He said I was a prostitute and that he was arresting me.

"I remember putting my arms against the door of the van trying to stop being pushed inside. I was hit with a baton on my hands and fell.

"I tried to crawl under the car and my head got stuck. I could not move. They were pulling me and screaming at me to get out but I was stuck.

"They sprayed me and I screamed. One of them grabbed me by my hips and pulled me hard.

"As they pulled me up someone hit my head on the side of the van."

She said she remembered hearing sirens as she temporarily awoke in the ambulance before losing consciousness again.

"When I woke up I was in hospital. I did not know what was happening. All I wanted to do was go home. I left because I was scared the policemen would find me and hurt me again," she said.

Provincial police spokesperson Director Govindsamy Marimuthoo said a statement had been obtained from the woman and a charge of assault had been opened and was being investigated.

"Our investigation is continuing into the matter and from the evidence we will determine the necessary steps and action to be taken."

Selebi was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

o This article was originally published on page 1 of Pretoria News on January 22, 2007
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