Judge lets fly at cops who locked up shop worker for prostitution
Dave Chambers | 2017-05-30 13:36:30.0
Image by: CARLOS JASSO
Three women sitting on chairs at a Sandton petrol station at midnight on a Monday must be sex workers‚ right?
That was what two policemen thought‚ so they arrested the women and threw them into a grimy cell with a blocked open toilet.
Their action just cost taxpayers R120 000‚ plus costs‚ after one of the women successfully sued for unlawful arrest and detention.
Thandeka Mathe‚ from Soweto‚ told Judge Ingrid Opperman that she lost her job after being detained for 37 hours‚ and burst into tears in the High Court in Johannesburg while describing her experience.
Opperman said women were entitled to protection from the police. “When the police turn on those they are supposed to protect‚ the constitutional order is threatened‚” she said.
She would have expected the police to wait nearby until a taxi arrived to take the women home after a night out at Mandela Square. “Instead (they) took them away to a place of filth and fear for two days without even the benefit of being allowed to advise their loved ones or their employer of their fate.”
This had resulted in Mathe‚ who was 31 and a single mother of two children at the time of the incident in February 2014‚ losing her job as assistant manager of a video store in Alberton.
In her judgment‚ Opperman railed against the treatment of women. “That those who … play such a valuable role should be treated so badly is a bitter irony that all South Africans‚ particularly members of the police service‚ should be working towards eliminating.”
The officers who arrested the three women “added unnecessarily to the infinite quotient of women’s humiliation and distress in the history of our society”‚ she said.