Policeman charged over rape case bungle

Date: 22 Nov 2006
But victim still feels let down over 2002 ordeal as another officer keeps her in dark Rape survivor Marchal Conradie has sought justice for nearly four years - now the policeman who bungled her case is being criminally charged. Conradie's ordeal started on December 10 2002 when she was repeatedly raped at her Lyttelton, Tshwane, home. A suspect was arrested three weeks later and subsequently released on bail. However, he flouted his bail conditions and is still on the run. Inspector Dennis Jansen was the policeman who initially took a statement from Conradie. That statement, however, went missing, as did the police docket with Conradie's DNA tests, which proved she had been a victim of rape. Conradie visited the police station many times and made numerous calls to Jansen, but she felt her case was being ignored. As far back as the beginning of 2005, Conradie's case was raised in the Gauteng legislature, with the province's Community Safety MEC, Firoz Cachalia, admitting at one stage that the 31-year-old had been "let down by the authorities in her search for justice". When the matter was again raised in the legislature yesterday, Cachalia said Jansen was now facing criminal charges for dereliction of his police duties. "We laid internal charges against the officer concerned and he was charged with gross negligence. He then resigned from the police service and we laid criminal charges. "We referred the matter to court, and the officer was charged with defeating the ends of justice," Cachalia said. The MEC also announced that a new investigating officer had been appointed and a new docket reconstructed, and that the matter would soon go to court. There has, however, still been no new arrest in the matter. However, Cachalia's response has failed to appease Conradie. She said that the last time she had had any contact with the supposed new investigator in her case was four months ago, when he came to her house to get a statement. "Though the officer was nice when he came for a statement, I never heard a thing from him again. He never phoned or tried to make contact with me. I am still in the dark about my case." She is aware that a criminal charge has been laid against Jansen, but still feels let down by the police. Conradie said police were quick to arrest people for petty offences but were very slow to help victims of rape and murder. "I am really disappointed. I am losing hope. I thought something was going to happen Â… "I feel unsafe. I feel violated and angry. I don't know who to trust anymore. I don't know if one should take the law into one's own hands, because the police seem to do nothing." When Conradie was attacked, she had been sleeping on a bench in her dining room when her attacker throttled her with a rope. He then dragged her to the bedroom and tied her hands behind her back with her shoelaces. He shoved items into her mouth to prevent her from screaming and also pointed a knife at her neck, threatening to kill her. Her attacker repeatedly raped her until she managed to alert her neighbours, who contacted the police. In the legislature yesterday, the Democratic Alliance's James Swart again expressed his reservations over Cachalia's response, saying Conradie's ordeal was the plight of hundreds of other victims of rape and abuse. "They are still being let down by the judicial system and have to wait years before they have their day in court and see justice being done," Swart said. Swart annoyed Cachalia when he reminded the MEC that he had made a promise to resign if the levels of crime failed to drop - an insinuation which drew a protest from Cachalia. Cachalia said Swart was unfairly trying to create an impression that crime levels were on the increase in the province, and that this was not true. By Baldwin Ndaba The Star 22/11/06