A Brooklyn woman has opened a case of intimidation and property damage against the police who tried to force their way into her home on the grounds of a drug tip-off.
Nabeelah Mohedeen, a reporter on the Athlone News, Tabletalk’s sister publication, says she’s been left traumatised after the 20 officers tried to force her security gate open with a crowbar on Friday evening.
Ms Mohedeen has been living at her Loanda Street home for less than a year and was home alone when she heard someone fiddling at her gate at 5pm. Peeking through her window, she was shocked to see the police officers.
She said she told them through the window that she was home alone and they could return once her husband was back, but they said she could either open the gate or they would break it open.
They ignored her request to see a search warrant and an officer called Solomons jumped on the gate. Not wanting to let them in but fearing what would happen if she didn’t, she tried to open the door which was swollen because of the wet weather.
“The more I tried, the more I struggled. I explained to them through the window, and they told me I was lying and that I was trying to hide the drugs,” she said.
Officer Solomons told her to throw him the key, which she did “with much hesitation”.
“I was hysterical at that point, phoning both my husband and father. One of the officers told me to put the phone down and asked why I was crying.
“I told them I was afraid they would rape me and made it known that I am a reporter. They immediately backed off, and some of them remained outside. I asked again for a search warrant, but no one replied,” she said.
The officers had wanted to know how long she had been living at the house, who had lived there before her and whether she was married to a coloured man or a black man, Ms Mohedeen said. They had also asked to see her ID, but she had refused to show them.
The officers had also refused to answer her husband’s questions when he had arrived, she said.
“I answered all their questions. I asked for a third time where their search warrant was and got no response,” she said.
“I asked officer Solomons why he acted like a fool by jumping on my gate, and he said not to call him a fool. I said he was one. I explained I was struggling to open my door and his response was to jump on my gate. He then stepped towards me aggressively as if he was going to attack me, but his female colleague stepped in front of him. At that point, I was scared he was going to attack me. His male colleagues did nothing to defuse the situation,” she said.
She had told the officers they could search the house for drugs, but they had told her it was not necessary and had left.
Ms Mohedeen said she was certain the police vans had “Athlone” marked on them and her neighbours had also confirmed that.
Athlone police station commander Colonel Mark Adonis said the Milnerton SAPS cluster, which Brooklyn falls under, included nine police stations but none of them was Athlone. He suggested the vans might have come from Atlantis, which he said fell under the Milnerton SAPS cluster.
“We don’t work in that area. We don’t have a member at the station called Solomons, but if we receive this case from the Milnerton police station, I will give my co-operation in an internal investigation,” Colonel Adonis said.
To his knowledge no vehicles had been dispatched to Brooklyn, he said.
The acting station commander at Atlantis, a Captain Mhambi, said they had three constables named Solomons, but Milnerton did not fall under their jurisdiction. Although we made it clear to Captain Mhambi who he was talking to, he later told us he wasn’t allowed to talk to the media and we couldn’t publish what he had said to us. He refused to give us his first name.
Milnerton police spokeswoman Captain Nopaya Madyibi said all their police vehicles had the name “Milnerton” on them and not “Athlone” . They did not have a member named Solomons working at the station either, said Captain Madyibi.
Cayla Murray spokeswoman for Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said: “Upon reviewing the information provided by Ms Mohedeen, the case was referred to the office of the Western Cape Police Ombudsman (WCPO) who deemed this case to fall under their mandate. The WCPO will make contact with her on this sensitive matter. The matter was referred to the WCPO as it is their responsibility to investigate policing inefficiencies in an independent manner.”
Ms Mohedeen has been for counselling at the Community Intervention Centre (CIC), at Milnerton police station, but she said she was still severely traumatised.
“I have never been so scared that I was going to be raped or brutally attacked by 20 officers. I am a reporter and I write about and have read about police officers raping and attacking women and police brutality. I am scared, scared of being a female, scared of saying anything to anyone, scared to be in my own home,” she said.