Monday, March 24, 2014

I need YOUR help - Day 246

I’ve never been victim of crime but what happened to me on Tuesday 18th March at 9.48pm at the onramp from Rivonia Road (heading East on the N1) was a pure act of corruption, one which left me raging and albeit extremely shaken up. The Johannesburg Metro Police Department needs to wake up to the existence of corrupt employees within their ranks. It is just not good enough that a lone female cannot drive around at night and fear for her safety, especially from those who are in charge of her safety and overall well-being.

I am writing this not only to make you aware, but for you to use as an official statement in order to escalate this matter. I’ve had enough, and I am sure there are a lot of women out there that feel the same but do not have the voice to do anything about it.

9.48pm – I had just left work after a long night and day of creative brainstorming for a presentation we had to give the next day. My brain is shattered as this is the third consecutive night I am leaving work late. All I want to do is get home, home being twenty minutes from the office, via the N1 and onto the M1 towards Norwood.

I had decided to phone a friend as I am leaving - I needed a familiar voice and someone to offload the daily happenings too, as my phone starts to ring through my car radio system - *Note: it’s completely handsfree - I had looked around the corner and a policeman had his hands out to pull me over. I hang up and follow his prompts.

There are 2 other policemen standing by, one which has just pulled over a bottle green new Opel Astra in front of me, the other standing behind my car. The officer who pulled me over (perpetrator) had summoned me to wind down my window. The policeman is about 6ft tall, he’s wearing his beige, what I can tell are normal uniform pants, no hat and he is very light in colour. He is quite built, borderline chubby but definitely someone I wouldn’t mess with. One thing I do remember is that he had a soft face, maybe this is why my fear stayed at bay throughout the entire situation.

As I roll down my window he immediately told me that talking on my phone was a R500 fine. I politely told him that I was not talking on my phone and that it is coming through my car radio and that it is a handsfree set. I then told him that I did not have any cash on me, which in hindsight is admitting a crime. At this point he was leaning through my window and looking into my car. I am wearing a dress, and his next comment completely throws me. “You have very sexy legs”. I replied with a “Thank you” and ask him if I could go. He then, completely ignored me. He had started to ask me where I am from, which I reply Durban (My car has an NU numberplate) and where I am travelling too. I said that I am on my way home to Melrose.

The questions start to get more intimate:

Policeman: “Do you live alone?”
Me: “No”
Policeman: “Do you have a husband?”
Me: “No”
Policeman: “Why not?”
Me: (thinking in my head, that is a good question) but I reply with a blunt, “I don’t have time”

At this point he asked me for my license which I suddenly realised was in my wallet and I did not want him to see that I indeed had money. But I could not let him see it, as I refused to bribe my way out of this situation. I opened my wallet and slowly start to fish for my license, I had finally found it, which by this stage, he had begun stroking my arm. My entire being wanted to punch him in the face, but calmly I let him carry on. I handed him my license. He stepped away from my window, read it and gave it back.

He then starts the mandatory walk around the car situation, stops at my registration disk, where he pointed at it and walked back to my window.
He told me to get out, which I again reply, “No.”

Policeman: “Your license (disk) has expired”

Completely aware of this I had stated that I still had a month to go before he can legally accuse me. I had also explained that I am from Durban, which meant that registration renewals (as I have learnt) can only be done in the city of your number plate, so A.) It is impossible for me to do this until I get back to Durban and B.) His point was completely null in void, as asking me to get out the car is illegal. Upon my refusal to exit my vehicle, perpetrator (the very same Johannesburg Metro Police Officer) upped my fine to R1500.00. At this stage, I once again replied that I did not have cash on me.

What happened next is still unbelievable – especially a Johannesburg Metro Police Officer of the law, one who behaved in a sexual, opportunistic manner, just blows my mind.

He walked back towards my open window, grabbed his package (genitals) and shakes it in my face.

Policeman: “Look at me, look how horny I am, don’t you want to take me home?”

At this point, looking back at this moment, I am unable to understand how I kept such a calm demeanour. This was blatant sexual harassment.

He carried on, now at this point with both hands LITERALLY trying to shove his hard-on (erection) in my face through my window.

Policeman: “Just LOOK at me baby, look how horny I am. I haven’t had sex in months, can’t you help me?”

Me: “Look I am really tired, and I just want to go home. I am sorry, you are an officer of the law, please can I go?”

At that moment, I had stared straight ahead - my whole body felt numb. From this point I must have completely blanked out as the next thing I remember is him standing back, walking to opposite pavement, leaning over and tying his shoelace.

I think it took me a while to click back into “Drive!” mode, but when I realised I was free, I did not look back.

The shock must have caught up with me at that moment, as I just burst into tears and cried hysterically all the way home - I cannot remember that drive.

Listen, I am an incredibly strong woman, and have the knack of talking myself out of many situations, but in a situation like this there is only so much strength one can muster. If I had reacted, what would have been the outcome? If I had gotten out the car with absolute no sense, what would have been the outcome?
There are woman out there who would have made that situation a lot worse, especially when lacking such composure. It is not good enough that someone who is there to check that we are safe, and do his job, takes the liberty to exploit a lone woman driver. Especially for sexual opportunities.

Last night I got pulled over again, as I saw the flashing lights of an all familiar torch, my entire being froze. I was NOT ready to go through this again. However, the policeman that had pull me over was incredibly helpful and as soon as he saw I was a woman told me to drive on and get home safely. He even noticed my number plate and has asked me if I knew how to get to where I was going.

I need to say that even though I have been through this experience, it is not something that is going to leave me. BUT I do not believe that every policeman is like this, but what about that 1/100 that is? Why should I relive this fear every time I get pulled over? It’s just not acceptable.

I plan to take matters further and bring this type of behavior to the light that is justice. But I need your help. I know this is not the first time this has happened to a single lady so I need your stories. Please send any information of this type of behaviour to me as I am compiling a blog WITH COMPLETE anonymity of our stories. It is the first step that I can take to create some sort of movement. Some of you may not think that this is of any use, but I have a voice and I plan to use it with my incredible support behind me (and Social Media networks). We need to create awareness which will hopefully transpire into safer roads for single woman to drive on.

Please send any experiences of this matter to: Jemma@socialbrand.co.za

As I have stated, absolutely everything that is published will be completely anonymous. I am prepared to put my name out there on your behalf. I need a base in which to present in court and unfortunately my experience alone is not enough to warrant an actual investigation.

Keep safe ladies, and please remember never to be the hero. If you are uncomfortable in any situation, ask the police officer to follow you to the nearest police station.

NOTE: I am specifically looking at your experiences in the greater Johannesburg area at this moment. 

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