Robbery victim charges police

2008-09-24 00:00

A Pietermaritzburg woman, the victim of a violent robbery in which she was stabbed, has laid charges against the South African Police Services’ officers after they allegedly accused her of being in cahoots with the robbers and assaulted her during a lengthy interrogation at a Loop Street police station.

Tholakele Chonco, a bus driver, told The Witness that she fears she may now lose her job because her driver’s licence card was in her wallet, which she had to leave at the crime scene on the instructions of the police.

Chonco alleges that after she became the suspect, she was held and tortured in police cells for more than two days without being charged.

The drama began when Chonco was visiting a friend who works at a funeral parlour in downtown Pietermaritzburg on Saturday, September 6.

Two men armed with knives allegedly entered and held up Chonco and her friend and demanded cash.

“One of the two men grabbed me on my shoulders from the back and demanded money. When I told him that I did not know where the money was, he started beating me. He pulled out a knife and stabbed me in the chest. I grabbed the knife and tried to take it away from him.” During the struggle Chonco’s finger was slashed.

The other man repeatedly punched Chonco’s friend as she lay on the floor. The robbers found the cash and fled, leaving the two women bruised and bleeding.

The police and the owner of the parlor were called and arrived at the scene. Chonco said her belongings were scattered on the floor. “I wanted to take my wallet, which was lying on the floor, but the police said I must not touch anything because they were still investigating.”

She was taken to Northdale Hospital where she received stitches to her chest and finger.

Immediately after she had received care, the police took her to Loop Street police station where she was interrogated. “I was accused of being an accomplice to the robbers, but I had never met those men.”

Chonco claims that police officers assaulted her and kept her in custody without charging her. “I asked them why they did not charge me instead of assaulting me.”

On the Monday when Chonco was released she said she asked for her wallet, which had her driver’s licence and some cash inside. “One police officer took me to the parlour to look for my documents, but we did not find them.”

The police could not tell her where the documents were and she now fears losing her job because she does not have her driver’s licence. Chonco has reported the assault to the police.

SAPS spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram confirmed that police are investigating an assault case.

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