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8 December 2016

The Health & Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) will approach the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) after police intimidation of vulnerable workers.  One of the Union’s female employees was arrested and intimidated by police officers for crossing a highway in the west of Johannesburg.

At around 6:00 yesterday morning (7 December 2016) while the employee was embarking on her daily commute from Diepsloot, west of Johannesburg, to the Union’s national office in Centurion, she was arrested while waiting at for transport on the N14.  The three Metro Police officers stopped in a white sedan and promptly arrested her, giving no attention to the other three persons standing next to the highway.  All three the other persons were male.  She was then taken to Diepsloot Police Station where she was briefly questioned for having crossed the highway.  She reports that she was not given the opportunity to answer the questions and that rather the officers present repeatedly answered on her behalf – stating that it was illegal for her to cross the highway.  She was then taken to what is called “Section D” where statements are usually taken but, without making a statement, she was approached by a South African Police Services (SAPS) officer who wanted to know if she had R300 so that she can be released.  As she did not have the money with her, she had to frantically get hold of a family member to bring the money.  The whole ordeal took over five hours.

“Since there were other people around me when I got arrested, and they were all men, I felt discriminated against for being a woman,” the employee (name withheld) said.  “I am shaken at the moment as I have never been inside a police station.  At this moment I am scared and I don’t feel comfortable to commute to work anymore.  This might force me to consider resigning my job,” she said, clearly traumatized by the events that unfolded.

“Hospersa condemns this kind of arbitrary action of police intimidation in the strongest of terms,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “We are considering escalating the matter to IPID so that it may be investigated.  On our initial enquiries from bystanders we established that often up to 200 such arrests are made daily, and one can only think that these so-called release fees can add up to a significant amount of money.  It would not be unfair to expect these payments to be bribes and therefore forms of corruption,” he argued.

Hospersa has since insisted that a receipt be given for the payment of the R300 “release fee” but, after several attempts the receipt was not forthcoming at the time of this release.

“Especially during this 16 Days of Activism against Women and Child Abuse we must expose all bullies who prey on vulnerable women who try to earn an honest living,” said Desfontaines.  “We cannot allow them to threaten and exploit our mothers, sisters and daughters in this way.  Hospersa will do everything in its power to stop this exploitation and protect the good workers of our country,” concluded Desfontaines.


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For more information please contact Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines on 083-321-4427.

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