update


UPDATE: Councillor decries police’s reluctance to open a case

THE writing is certainly on the wall when a defenseless resident whose only hope is to capture the beauty of nature for posterity, becomes the victim of a brutal assaulted for the sake of a camera.

This is according to ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge who commented after he was made aware of Saturday’s attack on a pensioner at Toti bird park, by the Sun.

READ ABOUT THE ATTACK: Elderly photographer brutally assaulted at Toti bird park 

Beetge said that, as sad and traumatic as the incident was, it unfortunately didn’t end when Hilda Steyn’s attacker made his getaway through a gap in the surrounding fence which the municipality was supposed to have repaired long ago.

“As much as an off-duty police officer in the park came rushing to her aid, the same courtesy was not extended by his on-duty colleagues at Amanzimtoti SAPS who allegedly refused to open a case, but instead sent a traumatised victim on her way with a form so she could first be examined by a medical practitioner to confirm whether indeed an assault had taken place,” said Cllr Andre Beetge.

The sad reality is that without the document reflecting the case number, the cost of such an examination would not fall on the State, but essentially remain the victim’s.

“Pained, deprived of her dignity, right of compassion and cameras, and with the added burden of finding R650 for an examination to justify an investigation, she had no alternative but to wait out the weekend to be seen at a clinic on Monday,” said the councillor.

 

Pink, blue, battered and bruised: Hilda Steyn (69) is an amateur photographer who was attacked at the Amanzimtoti Bird Park on Saturday, 9 September. Photo supplied.

 

Only on Tuesday, 12 September after the Sun consulted ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge did things start happening.
When Cllr Beetge communicated with Amanzimtoti SAPS commander Colonel Nkabinde, he was unaware of the incident itself and that members had allegedly refused to register a case without the examination documents first having been completed.

“Not only did the colonel confirm it was a deviation of procedure, resulting in the victim being submitted to double trauma, but he committed his personal intervention in not only having the case registered, but to investigate the conduct of members whose lack of action tarnished the reputation of those who are actually committed to serve their community,” explained Cllr Beetge.

“Here we have a typical example of what police management are always asking for, but what certain members deny ever happens. A clearly distraught victim, with physical signs of injury and trauma does exactly what is required by reporting the incident to the police. Instead of being assisted, however, she was met with animosity and incompetently sent away, thus enlarging the gap between the actual crime and the attacker.

Notwithstanding the station commander’s commitment to investigating, personal experience has shown the SAPS internal processes as being tainted to the point where officers suddenly become deaf, blind and dumb to their colleagues’ actions, resulting in victims being accused of prejudice.”

Only time will tell if Mrs Steyn will receive the sympathy, compassion and justice that she deserved immediately after her attack, not days after the fact.

“One would further hope that ward 93 councillor Thabisile Zungu takes note that the ward extends beyond her own comfort zone and that she will prioritise repairs to the bird park’s walls from the ward blocksum to enhance the safety of all who use its amenities,” said Cllr Beetge.

 

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  AUTHOR
Holly Konig
Journalist

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