‘I was raped in city prison’

2012-05-24 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG woman’s first visit to a prison turned into a nightmare when the correctional officer on duty raped her, she alleged.

The 22-year-old had gone to the city’s New Prison last Thursday to visit her incarcerated boyfriend, whom she hadn’t seen for two weeks, when the 49-year-old officer allegedly attacked her.

The man appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Monday and was granted bail of R500. The Department of Correctional Services said it has suspended the officer pending an investigation.

The woman said: “I was told to leave my bag in a locker [at the entrance], but there was no padlock. I went inside the prison and when I returned, my bag was not there. I was still confused when the officer appeared and called me to the reception area.

“He asked if everything was okay and I told him that my bag was missing,” said the woman.

She said she was about to leave the premises when the officer called her back and pointed to a chair where her bag was lying.

“I walked to the chair. Then the officer grabbed me by the hand, telling me that he loved me. I was surprised. He was an old man. He then pushed me into an empty office. I tried to scream but he threatened me. Then he raped me,” she said.

The woman said the visiting period had ended and the place was deserted when the incident took place.

“There was no one to help me. Once he was done, he ordered me to use the back door, while keeping an eye on me,” she said.

The woman reported the incident to a cousin, who called the police.

“I’m hurt; I never expected this to happen to me. I can’t think straight since the ordeal,” she said.

In his affidavit handed in during his bail application, the officer said he intended to plead not guilty.

The state did not oppose bail, saying the officer was not a flight risk.

The regional commissioner of Correctional Services, Mnikelwa Nxele, said the officer had been suspended pending an internal investigation.

“He allegedly committed this crime wearing the Correctional Services uniform and we are investigating this scandal. We will not allow incidents like this to happen at our facilities,” said Nxele.

The officer will appear in court again on June 25.

• mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

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