Policeman denies abuse of bereaved mother

2010-05-10 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG police warrant officer Vasudevan Sockalingum (34) on Friday strongly denied allegations that he had sexually violated a woman who arrived at the Copesville satellite police station with her critically ill baby seeking help on the night of July 29 2008.

When it was suggested to him under cross-examination by the prosecutor that he sexually abused the woman because she was alone with him at the station that night, he responded: “Am I insane? … No.”

He denied that he ever offered her money and a cellphone in exchange for sex or that he sexually abused her in any way.

Sockalingum said that when the woman first arrived she was accompanied by a “few” women and because the charge office was so small and stuffy he suggested that all but one of them should leave.

“They said no, that everybody must go because it is a very dangerous area,” he said.

Sockalingum said he radioed for an ambulance, which arrived in about 20 minutes. Paramedics declared the baby dead.

Sockalingum told regional court magistrate Jaco Jordaan that at that point the mother of the baby became hysterical.

“She was very emotional … hysterical. She was jumping around and screaming. She was almost going to drop the child. I grabbed the child and laid it on the bench … I got her some water and some tissues to wipe her eyes,” he said.

Sockalingum said he felt sorry for the woman and had treated her well. He could not explain why she made allegations of abuse against him, he said.

He said he was asked by the ambulance personnel to notify the mortuary van, and he did so. When they arrived after a further 20 to 25 minutes, he had to complete some documentation before he could release the baby to them.

By that time the mother was “calm” and sat quietly in the charge office. “She had accepted the fact [that the baby was dead],” said Sockalingum.

He said that when the mortuary van left, the woman took all her belongings and the child’s and followed. He thought that the mortuary personnel would take her home, but instead she returned to the charge office. She then told him she needed to be taken home.

Sockalingum said that, by chance, a Captain Ngubane had arrived at that point with a colleague and he arranged for them to give the woman a lift home.

Earlier, Sockalingum’s attorney, Anand Pillay, brought an application for the policeman’s discharge at the close of the state’s case on grounds that the evidence of the complainant in the case was “so unsatisfactory” that no reasonable court could convict the accused.

He outlined several versions of the alleged events that night to which the woman has testified in statements to the police as well as her testimony in court.

However, the application was refused by Jordaan.

The case was postponed to May 14.


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