22 November 2016
A 13-year-old girl, Sindi [not her real name], was assaulted in suburban Durbanville on her way back from the library.
Sindi, who lives in Kraaifontein, was walking with her friends on 31 October returning from the Durbanville Public Library. The library is some 6km from where she lives and she and her friends usually take a short cut off the main road and through the suburban area.
It was early evening, around 7pm, and nearing sunset. They were on Hout Street, Peerless Park North, and then, she says: “When we walked passed this one house, the dogs barked at us, but we didn’t take note of it because they always do that.”
A man came out and asked what they were doing to the dogs. They replied that they were just walking past.
Sindi says they ran, but the man came after them on a bicycle. In a statement to the police, she says he hit her in the face, threw her to the ground and kicked her in the stomach. She says he was swearing and saying things in Afrikaans, which she does not understand.
She says he only stopped when his neighbours came out and held him.
A woman who witnessed the incident called Sindi’s family.
“When we got there she was lying next to the road covered with the blanket and we did not know whether she was dead or alive,” says Sinethemba, her brother.
He says the police and ambulance arrived after them and she was taken to the hospital. The family then reported to the Kraaifontein police station. They were told to return the next day to fetch a case number.
But, says Sinethemba, when he went back to the police he was told the detective was off duty. Three days later, the investigating officer visited the family and said he was going to take a statement from the witness. It took a week before the family obtained a case number, and only after they were accompanied by a social worker.
After several more trips to the police, Sinethemba says he was told it was a case of common assault and there would be no more than a fine to be paid by the accused.
“I was angry, because my sister was in pain and nothing was being done about it,” he says.
The police also told the family they were struggling to get hold of the witness. The family do not believe the police. They say the witness has been calling them regularly to check on Sindi’s condition. The witness told GroundUp she does not work and she is mostly at home.
“I just want to see justice done for my sister. She has nightmares and she is always on edge. And the person that did it to her does not even know how much damage he has done. She missed a whole week of school because of this,” said Sinethemba.
Spokesperson for the Western Cape South African Police Service Frederick van Wyk says a case of assault has been opened and it is being investigated at the Kraaifontein police station.
He confirmed that a statement was only taken from the victim ten days after the incident.
“As soon as the statement is obtained [from a witness], the suspect will be arrested, but because it is a charge of common assault, the suspect will be released on a warning to appear in court,” said Van Wyk.
More than a week later, at the time of publication, and three weeks after the assault, the witness told GroundUp the police had still not come to take a statement from her.