Kraai du Preez and her young daughter Hanelize were on their way to a horse show in Hoedspruit when they arrived at a roadblock.
Du Preez was towing a horsebox transporting two horses. “The roadblock was quite large, and the first few officials waved us through,” she said. It was right at the tail end of the blockade that a male official waved her down.
“I stopped and he shouted at me to pull over more as I was blocking the road with the horsebox.” She explained to him that the shoulder of the road was too steep and that the horses would fall down inside the trailer if she had to stop at such an angle. “There was terrible erosion and the angle of the shoulder was simply too steep – there was just no way that I could stop there with the horses.”
Du Preez said she explained this to the official and said she would drive on a bit as she knew that further ahead there was a safe place on the side of the road to stop. She asked him to follow her and slowly drove off. “I would put not just the horses, but also the other drivers in danger if the animals fell over and panicked inside the box. All I thought of was to get to a place of safety where they (the officials) could calmly search my vehicle or check my licences and so forth.”
The next instant the two traffic officials raced after her with screaming sirens and forced her to a halt. “I don’t understand why they overreacted like that as I had asked them if they would mind accompanying me to a safer place.”
She had barely opened her window when the officials attempted to pull her through the open window. “All the time they were screaming at me that I was resisting arrest. But I could not open the door as they were blocking it with their bodies.” They attempted to handcuff her inside her bakkie, and to pull her out through the window.
“They lifted my legs so high my knees reached the steering wheel. All the time they were shaking me and screaming insults at me.”
As her mother was being assaulted, Hanelize hysterically screamed at them to leave her mommy alone. She was crying and hanging onto her mother’s arm, begging them to leave them alone. “What will happen to me if you take my mommy?” she cried.
The men also broke the bakkie’s key in two, with one piece remaining in the ignition.
Du Preez eventually managed to force open her door by sheer determination and they immediately pulled her out, despite the fact that she was still wearing her safety belt. The owner of a nearby shop had witnessed the incident and run closer to help. He managed to defuse the situation.
“The officials refused to identify themselves to us and were extremely aggressive.” It was only after someone had phoned the police officer in charge of the operation, and she commanded the officials to return to the roadblock, that Du Preez and her daughter heaved a sigh of relief. She made a U-turn and returned to the roadblock.
“The woman in charge, Colonel Gladys Lubella was extremely efficient and friendly,” said Du Preez. “She asked what had happened and then apologised to me and said I could leave.”
She intended opening cases of assault, damage to property as well as intimidation.
Joseph Mabuza, spokesman for community safety, security and liasion confirmed that there had been a large roadblock. “However, this was manned by females only, in celebration of Women’s Month, as far as I know there were no men.”