A senior Port Elizabeth police officer is being investigated for alleged rape, sexual harassment and bullying of policewomen – but is still at work. The explosive claims are listed in internal reports alleging the lieutenantcolonel was sexually abusing women police officials and even raped a colleague.
He cannot be named by law as the allegations are of a sexual nature and he has not been charged.
Three other senior police officials at the Mount Road police station and Mount Road cluster office have been implicated in an alleged cover-up, after failing to act on the complaints.
Two damning reports on victimisation and the alleged cover-up have been completed.
A third probe into all the claims was launched in September and internal charges are set to be laid soon.
The internal probe stems from a string of complaints first lodged in 2013, while two criminal cases – one of rape and another of sexual assault – were opened in July and October this year.
In one instance, a policewoman alleges she was raped inside a police van in 2012 and, in another, a policewoman alleges she was inappropriately touched by the same lieutenant-colonel in 2013.
Due to the allegations of a cover-up, criminal cases were opened and transferred to police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
One of the reports – compiled last year – lambasted police management for failing to act on three-year-old allegations.
“[It] appears [the lieutenant-colonel] is still employed at the Mount Road police station and it is apparent the employer has done nothing to secure a conducive working environment thus far,” the report says.
It says an officer, within the Port Elizabeth legal services division, also failed to act and allegedly admitted to breaching police policy.
In August, when questions were posed by a Herald reporter, the lieutenantcolonel was transferred from Mount Road to the Gelvandale police station and again, recently, to Walmer.
The saga led to one of the whistleblowers attempting to commit suicide in July due to the lack of support from police management and ongoing harassment.
In August, a preliminary report, which The Herald has seen, recommended that the officer be transferred pending the outcome of a further internal probe.
Since then, more victims are understood to have come forward.
The report also calls for three other officers – two colonels and a brigadier based at Mount Road and the cluster office – to be investigated.
It was compiled by three officials in the police’s Sexual Harassment Task Team.
The report, signed on July 3, has since been submitted to provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga’s office. The findings include:
- Acts of alleged sexual harassment being evident;
- Alleged victims being intimidated;
- Incidents being reported to seniors who failed to act;
- Alleged victims being too scared to speak out;
- The lieutenant-colonel allegedly targeting women when they were vulnerable;
- Many alleged victims having marital issues or being in the process of divorce; and
- One alleged victim being the civilian wife of a warrant officer who worked under the lieutenant-colonel.
By August 28, deputy provincial commissioner of human resources MajorGeneral Nomalady Dlani had ordered an urgent investigation into the accusations, stating “this [report] is viewed in a very serious light”.
Another report lambasts Eastern Cape and cluster police management for failing to act and calls for a probe into contravention of police discipline rules.
It paints a picture of the hostility between senior officials at the Mount Road cluster office and the alleged victims.
The Herald has seen statements submitted by some of the alleged victims, two of whom tried to commit suicide as a result of alleged victimisation.
“This station [Mount Road] has so much conflict and it is not managed properly,” one statement read.
“Instead, victims are just being more victimised when they try to speak out.
“Our marriages and other relationships as well as our health are suffering.”
In another reported incident, a policewoman was charged for not reporting for work when she was booked into a psychiatric hospital after a breakdown.
The rape allegedly took place in a police vehicle while the woman was on duty in 2012.
Attorney Morne Struwig said the women involved were extremely traumatised but also angered by the failure of police management to take the matter seriously. “I have taken this [case] on in an advisory capacity as we all want to see justice served,” he said.
“I personally know some of the victims and I have seen the stress and trauma.
“What makes it worse is that the employer ignored the cries for help and failed to act, making the victims feel like they had been abandoned.”
Struwig said when the allegations first came to light, several top police officials allegedly started victimising at least one of the women by charging her internally.
“In this case, they departmentally charged one of the victims with stupid charges like insubordination in an attempt to sweep this matter under the carpet,” he said.
Ipid spokesman Moses Dlamini confirmed that both the alleged rape and sexual assault, involving policewomen, were being investigated.
“[As] the incidents were not reported immediately, we opted to first [investigate] and refer the cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision.”
Provincial police spokeswoman Colonel Sibongile Soci said while the investigations had been handed over to Ipid, the police were pursuing an internal investigation.
“Immediate action was taken and the officer was transferred to another station pending the outcome of both criminal and departmental investigations,” she said.
Soci said the allegations were viewed in a serious light, but failed to say why it had taken so long to act on the complaints.
She denied a cover-up, saying that the cases had been opened only recently.
“We urge anyone [with] information of such a cover-up to come forward.”