Teen’s TER­ROR DRIVE

A Pi­eter­mar­itzburg teen suf­fered a night­mare or­deal at the hands of cor­rupt po­lice af­ter a night out in Dur­ban cel­e­brat­ing her friend’s birth­day. Week­end Wit­ness knows the girl and her fam­ily, as well as the night­club in ques­tion. She has re­fused to open

Weekend Witness - - News -

LAST Satur­day night I made three mis­takes count­less teenagers be­fore me have made — and I nearly paid dearly for it. I went out for a party with­out my cell­phone, I drank too much and I lost my in­hi­bi­tions.

The whole thing be­gan when I met a guy in a Dur­ban club. I’ll call him Dave. He was very good-look­ing, I was very drunk, so it didn’t take much to get me into his car. Un­der nor­mal cir­cum­stances, this is not some­thing I would do — we’ve all been warned about strangers, af­ter all.

While we were in the car, things steadily got more heated. It reached a point at about 1 am where we were both un­dressed from the waist up, we were kiss­ing and grab­bing as teenagers do, when there was a knock on the win­dow and a torch light shone through as the door opened. A man dressed in po­lice uni­form told us to get out of the car and said we were un­der ar­rest for pub­lic in­de­cency.

I got out the car in com­plete shock and started to in­sist he let me stay at the club as I didn’t have my cell­phone with me and I needed to tell my friends in­side what was hap­pen­ing. He re­fused and be­gan to get in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive with me. I started cry­ing and begged him to let me go. He ig­nored my pleas and strapped a hand­cuff to my wrist and be­gan to drag me to the po­lice truck. I started to cause more of a scene, re­fus­ing to get in the truck. For some rea­son he backed off. This is when I no­ticed the sec­ond po­lice­man talk­ing to Dave and his friend, who I’ll call Kyle.

One of the po­lice­men forced Dave, Kyle and me into Dave’s car and said he was tak­ing us to the po­lice sta­tion to be charged, which I gath­ered to be Dur­ban Cen­tral Po­lice Sta­tion. Once there, we were made to sit in Dave’s car, in the car park. Kyle and I stayed in the car with one of the po­lice­men for what felt like roughly two hours while Dave spoke out­side the car with the other of­fi­cer.

Dave fi­nally came back to the car with the other po­lice­man and grabbed his phone. The po­lice­man then stood out­side with Dave as he tried to phone a fam­ily mem­ber to or­gan­ise money for some­thing. I now was cer­tain some­thing was very wrong and I started to panic even more. The po­lice­man who was in the car with Kyle and I started to ex­plain that Dave and I would be put in prison un­til Tues­day (this be­ing Sun­day morn­ing) and then we would have to go to court, hire lawyers and pay var­i­ous fees. He ex­plained this would ul­ti­mately cost R8 000. As if they were do­ing us a favour, he told us if we could get the R8 000 now, we could pay our “bail fees” and leave.

There was no doubt in my mind this was a bribe, and it was one I was more than will­ing to pay in or­der to avoid get­ting a crim­i­nal record and ru­in­ing my fu­ture.

Around this point in the evening a man opened the door to my side of the car. He was dressed in a T-shirt and jeans and tried to pull me out the car, say­ing he was tak­ing me to the po­lice truck. I ab­so­lutely re­fused to go, say­ing he was not wear­ing a uni­form and that I did not trust him. I was cer­tain this man would rape me. Af­ter threat­en­ing to charge me with ob­struc­tion of jus­tice, he left us and we went back to wait­ing in the car and Dave con­tin­ued phon­ing peo­ple to try or­gan­ise the money. All I had on me was R50 and no credit card.

Next, Dave got back in the car with us and the other po­lice­man in uni­form joined us. We drove to an ATM to draw the money. The po­lice­men stayed in the car and Dave went to the ATM. He re­turned af­ter about five min­utes to ex­plain that his card had a daily with­drawal limit of R1 200. The po­lice­men were very an­gry and didn’t be­lieve him, so they kept send­ing him back to the ATM to get re­ceipts. Even­tu­ally they ac­cepted that Dave was telling the truth and they drove us back to the po­lice sta­tion. Dave gave me the money to put in my hand­bag.

When we were back at the po­lice sta­tion, the man with­out a uni­form re­turned to tell us he did not ac­cept bribes and stated we were go­ing to jail. We were so con­fused.

Dave got out the car again to talk to one of the uni­formed po­lice­men. He phoned his aunt and she said she would bring the ex­tra money to the po­lice sta­tion. Af­ter that phone call, Dave and I were taken into the back of the po­lice truck. It was now about 5.30 am. We drove around for a while. I do not know the Dur­ban area at all, but we def­i­nitely drove past a sign say­ing “Berea”. I was ex­tremely pan­icked be­cause I didn’t know where we were go­ing. I hon­estly thought I was be­ing taken ei­ther to be raped or killed, and I was hop­ing for the lat­ter.

We ar­rived at a sec­ond po­lice sta­tion and the one uni­formed man told us to get out the car. He asked us where the money was and I told him it was in my bag. He told us to get back in the truck and drop the money in a tyre which was ly­ing in the back. I did as he said and then he pointed to Dave’s car, which Kyle had fol­lowed us in, and told us to leave. We left with Kyle im­me­di­ately and drove away in a state of re­lief and shock.

Ul­ti­mately, I made those three mis­takes and it led to the worst night of my life. I know I was ex­tremely lucky and it could have ended up in so many ways I can’t bear to think of. This is a warn­ing to teenagers ev­ery­where that even in the po­lice there are peo­ple who will try to ex­tort you and can­not be trusted.

We are tar­gets. Know your rights. Ask for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion — there should be a vis­i­ble name above the of­fi­cer’s pocket. As a woman, you can ask for a po­lice­woman to es­cort you. No male po­lice­man, or other man, may ever touch you against your will. Be safe. • Po­lice spokesper­son Colonel Jay Naicker said de­spite the pair’s predica­ment, they should have re­fused the bribe and chal­lenged the of­fi­cers to charge them.

“Peo­ple shouldn’t pay bribes. Rather ad­mit to the of­fence, be­cause that is a road you don’t want to go down. Tell the of­fi­cer you want to open a docket.”

He said po­lice don’t de­tain peo­ple on such mi­nor of­fences. In­stead, they get charged and re­leased.

And if one feels threat­ened, ask to speak to the sta­tion com­man­der.

“They are also en­ti­tled to call a fam­ily mem­ber. They have their rights.”

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