February 19 2010 at 12:36PM
By Sharika Regchand
Two Pietermaritzburg police officers face charges of assault and crimen injuria after being accused of trying to push a woman off the road and then manhandling her.
Lee-Ann Taylor, 32, of Woodlands, was so traumatised by Sunday night’s incident that she was admitted to hospital until Wednesday and treated for shock and trauma.
Taylor said on Thursday that it had been the most frightening experience of her life and she was having nightmares about being chased by officers since the incident.
She had been on her way to her parents-in-law when she stopped behind a white unmarked car at an intersection. When the robot turned green, the car in front did not move, and she drove around it to get across the intersection.
The car driver then hooted and flashed his lights at her while trying to force her off the road. Fearing a hijacking attempt, she drove straight to her parents-in-law, with the men in pursuit.
Once there, two men in civilian clothing got out of the car and approached her.
“They pushed me against the car and handled me roughly. They said that I had run a red light, but I had not violated any traffic light rules.”
Taylor said the officers subjected her to a barrage of abusive language before handcuffing her.
Her three-year-old child saw the incident and began screaming and crying.
A neighbour approached and was told that the men wanted Taylor to apologise for jumping a red robot.
The men eventually let her go. Taylor’s neighbour identified the men as officers of the Mountain Rise police station, as she had seen them before.
Taylor has engaged an attorney to address the matter on her behalf.
Police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge confirmed that Taylor had opened a case and said it would be investigated.
He said the officers had charged Taylor with jumping a red robot and reckless and negligent driving, which was also being investigated.
In a similar incident, a Cato Ridge woman, Jude Ward, alleged she was assaulted at the Camperdown police station by a traffic officer who had followed her there from the N3 on January 18.
Ward had been driving in the fast lane along the N3 when a man in a white twin-cab bakkie tried to pass her. As she tried to move from the fast lane, the man placed a blue light on the bakkie’s roof and pursued her.
Ward had also suspected a hijack attempt and drove to the police station for protection. However, instead of being protected, she was assaulted by the traffic officer, who had followed her to the station, allegedly in view of Camperdown police officers, who had done nothing to assist her.
The officer then arrested and charged Ward with reckless and negligent driving, and failing to comply with a traffic officer’s instructions. She laid a counter-charge of assault against the officer.
The matter is being investigated and Ward intends suing the State for damages.