Cops claim they were strip-searched in front of colleagues, suspect's wife
'Brigadier told us to take off everything, our bras, panties, our socks, everything,' one of them alleges
Four Johannesburg police officers, including two women, were allegedly stripped and paraded naked in front of their colleagues and the wife of a suspected drug peddler they had just arrested.
Gauteng police have confirmed that the alleged incident at Soweto’s Dobsonville police station last month is being investigated. The SA Police Union was the first to sound the alarm and now parliament’s police portfolio committee is demanding an explanation from provincial police management.
Brigadier Sipho Ngubani, the commander of Soweto’s Dobsonville police station, referred Times Select to the Gauteng provincial police commissioner’s office when asked for comment.One of the policewomen, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Times Select she was emotionally distraught by what had happened.
“It was horrible. The brigadier told us to take off everything, our bras, panties, our socks, everything. We had to bend down and turn around to show that we were not hiding the money anywhere.”
She said the wife of the suspect was present with them when they stripped.
“It was humiliating. One of the officers asked the woman if she was satisfied, but she said no. She wanted us to empty all our field dress pockets and even made us take the protective plates of our bulletproof vests out, all while we were naked.”
The policewoman said she was traumatised.
“I feel sick. I can’t face my other colleagues at work who laugh at us. We don’t know why we would be humiliated like this. When I think about this I just want to cry.”
Sapu is now helping the four officers, one of whom has been in the police for less than six months, to pursue legal action against the SAPS.
The officers are based at the station’s crime prevention unit.
The union said the constables, whose names are all known to Times Select, but are being withheld to protect their identities, were on patrol in Soweto when they spotted a vehicle being driven in a suspicious manner.Union president Mpho Kwinika said when the officers stopped the driver and searched the car they found drugs and cash in the vehicle.
“A woman, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was released after the driver allegedly confessed to having the drugs which he claimed to be selling for a Nigerian national, and that he was just giving the woman a lift.”
He said the officers arrested the driver and confiscated the drugs and money. He said when the constables arrived at the police station, their commander demanded that they hand over the drugs and money, which they had confiscated.
“He hauled them into his office, where the woman, who they had earlier released, was sitting. She had apparently told the station commissioner the constables had robbed the driver, who was her husband.
“Instead of following proper procedures when such allegations are levelled, he ordered that the four be stripped naked and searched for money which was allegedly missing from the bag which they had seized.”
Kwinika said the two female officers were allegedly taken into the station commissioner’s personal assistant’s office, and in front of the suspect’s wife, strip searched.
“They were totally kaalgat [naked]. They were paraded in front of the suspect’s wife. The policemen were made to strip naked in front of the station commissioner, two other officers and the suspect. All four constables were then brought together and made to squat naked and part their buttocks so that it could be checked whether they were hiding the suspect’s money in their anuses.
“When it was found that they did not have the money on them, the bag containing the money was checked. It was discovered that none of the money, which the suspect’s wife had said was missing, was in fact not missing. All of the R12,900 was still in the bag.”Kwinika said they had raised the matter with portfolio committee.
Peter Ntsime, Sapu’s Gauteng deputy chairperson, said three of the constables were receiving medical treatment for the trauma they had suffered.
“One of these officers has only been in the SAPS for six months. How do you expect him to have any faith in police management when they receive such treatment?”
Police portfolio committee head Francois Beukman described the allegations as “shocking”.
“We want this alleged conduct thoroughly investigated and explanations on what happened to be provided to the committee.”
Gauteng provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwa de Langa said she had assigned senior officers to conduct the investigation.
“The investigation is due to be completed [this week]. These allegations are disturbing and we need to get to the bottom of what actually happened.
“I am waiting for the completed report so I could decide on what kind of action needs to be taken.”