SHE walks into the room dressed to the nines in her shiny bronze dress and jacket, black heels, a matching handbag and neatly manicured nails. She looks just like an executive heading for a board meeting.
Thembi works for the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit. And when it comes to men who have sexually violated women and children, she is deadly serious about putting them behind bars – for a very long time.
She’s based in the small eastern Free State town of Ficksburg, and her mission is, quite simply, to protect the nation and to make perpetrators pay for their sins.
She first began to put that mission into practice when she made 16 arrests that led to convictions over four years (2005 – 2008). As rape is a crime for which it’s notoriously difficult to get convictions, she’s highly regarded in the police force. Her dedication has earned her two SAPS awards, for best performance and best detective respectively. And all her cases between March and August 2010 resulted in prison terms. “If I can’t catch them, I tell them that they can’t run away forever, I will get them eventually,” she says.
As the mother of two small children, she can’t help thinking of them in her job, and works to make a difference in all children’s lives. “When I get a case, my first question is what if the victim were my child?”
When DRUM visits the town, the police station is celebrating, and Thembi is the reason for festivity. Proud station commander Colonel Anna Mpiti has organised a policewomen’s celebration for her. Swopping their blue uniforms for traditional Sesotho garb, trendy suits and stilettos, they sang, ululated and danced for the occasion.
“We’re here to celebrate a great woman,” said Captain Dipuo Malape, Thembi’s boss. “I’m her captain and I’ve never achieved what she has,” she said, smiling proudly.
THEMBI, who’s successfully arrested some of the perpetrators on the same day as the incident is reported, sings the praises of her right-hand man and mentor, Thamsanqa Mabhaya. “He taught me all I know. We share an office and work together when we need to apprehend perpetrators.”
As a result of her work, she’s a darling in the community and the people are always willing to help her. One case is that of a 38-year-old father who repeatedly raped his 15- and 16-yearold daughters. He was arrested in October 2009 and sentenced to life imprisonment and 18 years, respectively, in June 2010.
Read the full article in DRUM of 28 October 2010