Private Prosecution Unit intervenes: Police general finally prosecuted after “humiliating” policewoman

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has finally decided toprosecute a current serving police general who allegedly humiliated the 53-year-old Capt. Riana Stander (previously Viviers) and others in 2016 on charges of crimen injuria. The alleged crime took place in November 2016 when the accused visited the Police Academy in Oudtshoorn and (in front of about 450 recruits) made remarks about the appearance of Stander and other training personnel.

The accused allegedly ordered Stander and other officials to stand on a stage and thereafter made derogatory statements about Stander’s attire, weight and the colour of her skin, to the applause and cheers of the recruits. She inter alia answered her own question as to what was wrong with the people on the stage by saying that they were too white. Stander opened a case docket in November 2016. Mainly because of the trauma and stress brought about by this incident Stander has been declared medically unfit to serve and is no longer employed by the SAPS.

After the union Solidarity put pressure on the SAPS, an internal disciplinary hearing was held in 2018 regarding the conduct of the accused. The finding was that the accused’s comments toward Stander and other officials were racist, as well as derogatory and discriminatory and she was consequently dismissed in 2019. The accused was also found to be a dishonest and unreliable witness. The finding and sanction was, however, overturned during an arbitration process and the General has returned to the SAPS. The SAPS inexplicably has not reinstituted disciplinary action.

The NPA, however, refused to prosecute whereafter the Private Prosecution Unit was approached by Solidarity and Stander in 2019 to privately prosecute the accused. The Director of Public Prosecutions in Cape Town (DPP) initially, and in writing indicated that there was not prima facie proof of crimen injuria. However, when the Private Prosecution Unit in July 2019 requested a nolle prosequi-certificate on behalf of Stander to privately prosecute, the NPA simply failed to comply to the legislation that compels them to issue such a certificate if the State decides not to prosecute.

Finally, after many letters and pressure on the NPA, the DPP on 28 March 2022 halfheartedly indicated to the Private Prosecution Unit that the State would indeed prosecute the accused. In the same letter, the DPP inexplicably indicated to the Private Prosecution Unit that they would contact the complainant (Stander) “should her evidence be required in court”. It is unclear if any further steps were taken to ensure the appearance of the suspect in court, but the witnesses were neither informed nor consulted with.

According to Adv. Phyllis Vorster, Prosecutor at AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit, it seems that both the SAPS and the NPA have done everything in their power to delay the prosecution of the accused with the supposed eventual aim of making this matter disappear altogether. “The SAPS for example dragged their feet in providing the docket to the complainant and the NPA’s refusal and reluctance to issue a nolle prosequi-certificate is telling. We will continue to monitor the case to ensure that a prosecution does indeed ensue.”

Stander is elated that the case will finally be brought to court. “I am confident that justice will finally be done under the watchful eye of AfriForum’s Private Prosecution Unit.

The NPA has not provided a date for the first appearance of the accused yet.

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