With police “reneging” on a substantial financial out-of-court settlement, a Pretoria mother, allegedly raped by a policeman in the toilets of a police station, is determined to continue her fight for justice.
Denied a chance to face her alleged rapist, battling apparent cover-ups and the alleged sabotaging of identity parades, and threatened with death, the woman, 31, is now going to the civil courts.
With the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) recommending that those responsible for the alleged attack be “disciplined internally”, the woman and her attorney hope to bring her 18-month battle for justice to a successful end.
She aims to ensure that the Rustenburg policeman who allegedly raped her, his colleagues who allegedly refused to assist her, and the Ministry of Police, which she will now take to court in October, are held accountable.
The primary school receptionist’s nightmare began in September, 2009 when she was allegedly raped in a Rustenburg police station’s bathroom soon after she was arrested on theft charges.
The charges, laid by her ex-fiancé, were dismissed by the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) the day after her alleged assault.
First she was turned away from the Tlhabane police station where she tried to open a rape case. Then she was allegedly refused assistance by a Pretoria district surgeon.
When faced with the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision not to prosecute, the woman finally believed her battle for justice was over when the North West police legal office made her a settlement offer.
E-mails between the woman’s attorney, Delia de Vries, and the North West police legal services litigation section show that the SAPS approached the woman, through her attorney, in April last year, for an out-of-court settlement.
Copies of the e-mails, which are in the possession of the Pretoria News, show that a Colonel Olifant, from the legal services litigation section, contacted De Vries.
The e-mail read: “This office is considering settlement …
“Kindly indicate if you will be prepared to accept an offer to the maximum of R500 000 as full and final settlement of this claim.”
De Vries replied: “The client is prepared to accept … R1.2 million together with an offer to pay her costs to date to dispose of this matter.”
Olifant responded: “We hereby tender an adjusted proposal.”
Replying to the “adjusted proposal”, which De Vries asked not to be revealed for legal purposes, she indicated her client “is willing to accept your offer”.
Thinking the matter was finally over, De Vries and the woman learnt a month later that the offer was being withdrawn.
The withdrawal e-mail, which referred all further queries to the state attorney’s office, stated: “After having requested your opinion without prejudice on possibility of settlement, the writer has had an opportunity to look into the rape case and scrutinise all statements … made by the plaintiff.
“Be informed that the writer is of the opinion that pleadings should be exchanged while waiting for the counsel’s opinion … as to whether we should settle or not.”
Replying to Ben Minnaar, the attorney handling the matter for the SAPS, De Vries said: “We are of the opinion that an offer was made … (and) was accepted by our client … this concludes a valid contract.
“This offer cannot be withdrawn … as this will amount to a breach of contract.”
The woman, who cannot be named, said she was determined to carry on with her fight for justice.
“It is difficult, but I have to carry on so that these policemen can never hurt another woman again.
“When they made the offer I thought this nightmare was finally over, that I could have my life back …”
De Vries said as far they were concerned the state was reneging on its offer. “They made an offer which we accepted. Despite numerous requests for information no one has come back to us as to why there was no prosecution, why the financial offer was reneged on or why these policemen should only face an internal disciplinary process.
“How do you just think away something like this? How do you think away a rape?” she asked.
ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini said: “Our investigation was completed. The docket, including statements and an identikit, was sent to the DPP for a decision.
“We recommended the suspects be disciplined internally. The outcome of this, which is determined by the SAPS, is still outstanding.”
Asked why there was no prosecution, North West NPA spokesman Frank Lesenyego said: “Part of the reason was that DNA tests came back negative and the woman failed to point out the alleged police official during the identification parade.”
Asked why the settlement offer was withdrawn, Minnaar declined to comment and North West police said they would comment today.