EMPD officer accused of punching and assaulting woman still on duty
Almost a week has passed since an incident where an Ekurhuleni Metro Police officer physically assaulted a woman after she asked him to wear his mask. The woman has been hospitalised and undergone surgery but the officer responsible is still reporting for duty.
Thalente Nigidi, 35, has been in the Botshelong Empilweni Hospital in Vosloorus, Ekurhuleni since Sunday, 31 May 2020 where she was being treated for injuries sustained after she was allegedly punched in the face by an Ekurhuleni Metro Police (EMPD) officer. The incident left her nose fractured in two places.
Director for Communications and Marketing at the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Ndileka Cola, confirmed to Daily Maverick that the matter had been reported to them and the “investigation process has resumed”.
However, media liaison officer at the City of Ekurhuleni, Kobeli Mokheseng told Daily Maverick that the officer in question was still reporting for duty even after the video of the assault had gone viral on social media.
Thalente’s sister-in-law, Siphumelele Nigidi was driving in Ekurhuleni on Sunday, 31 May 2020 with Nigidi in the passenger seat and Siphumelele’s two children and her helper in the back seat when she was stopped by the Ekurhuleni metro police officer.
Siphumelele did not have her driver’s licence because her wallet had been stolen, but she had a signed affidavit. However, she asked that before the officer handled her documents, that he sanitise his hands.
“When he came back he started shouting words at me like ‘kana you the expert here’. My car is labelled with what I do for a living and fortunately or unfortunately I am a medical professional. But this is where he started having a go at me,” Siphumelele told Daily Maverick. “He then said that my car was overloaded and that I would have to explain to the magistrate why my car is overloaded but I want to be a ‘miss-know-it-all’ and tell him about the regulations.”
The officer wrote a fine for Siphumelele claiming that she had not stopped at a stop sign. But as he was writing the fine he removed his mask from his face, and Thalente asked that he put his mask back on.
“He ignored her when she asked. So she asked again and he continued to ignore her. He knew exactly what needed to be done but was not doing it at all,” Siphumelele said.
“My sister then took a video of this incident as we felt our lives were endangered by this. When he saw the camera pointed at him he went into a violent rage in spite of our children that were crying in the back seat.”
The officer went to the passenger side of the car where Thalente was sitting and “grabbed and dragged” her out of the car towards the police van to handcuff her.
“In the meantime, he is throwing in slaps but Thalente is hysterical asking ‘why are you arresting me? I only asked you to put your mask on’”, Siphumelele said. “He got mad when she was trying to obviously get away but he was getting more enraged.”
When Thalente once again tried to get away from him, Siphumelele claims that the officer inappropriately groped Thalente.
“He grabbed her by the bum and then tried to pull her back to him by the waist of her jeans,” Siphumelele said. “At this stage, we are both outraged by his indecent behaviour.”
Eventually, according to Siphumelele the officer’s partner who had been “watching on” the entire time intervened and tried to stop the scuffle.
“Then when I called my husband and passersby for help, who tried to get him off my sister, he threw a punch onto her nose. Then took her phone, which she used to film all this and smashed it on the tar road,” Siphumelele said.
When community members came to help, the officer pulled out his gun and pointed it at everyone on the scene. Thalente and Siphumelele were then taken to Dawn Park police station where the situation got a lot worse for the two women.
“They denied Thalente medical care and refused for her to open a case against the EMPD officer,” Siphumelele said. “The EMPD officer then opened a case against my sister claiming that she assaulted him, and resisted arrest.” Daily Maverick has sought comment from SAPS. (The piece will be updated when the comment is received).
It was only after three hours that Thalente was taken by the ambulance to Botshelong Empilweni Hospital due to the fracture on her nose, the internal bleeding and some damage to her neck. Thalente has been under police guard since Sunday and had to undergo reconstructive surgery on her nose on Thursday, 4 June.
Mokheseng said the matter was serious but they could not launch an investigation until they received a statement from both the officer and Thalente, who was still in the hospital.
“This is a guy who is still roaming the streets, something really needs to be done,” Siphumelele said. “This is a guy that is going to stop another person and get this violent and maybe even get someone killed…As women in South Africa, will we forever be subjected to such atrocities cause we are defenceless? Where is the sense where a man brags to his colleagues about punching that b*tch in her face to shut her up and put her in her place?” DM