South Africa – The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport says it is appalled at the attack and rape of three female security officers by criminals targeting departmental offices in the eThekwini region .
The incident happened as the country observes the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign .
According to reports, heavily armed criminals entered the Department of Transport offices in Merebank, south of Durban, on Monday at around 02:30am .
While three male security officers, who belong to the private security company contracted to the department were kept hostage, the three female officers, who were held at gunpoint in another room, were sexually assaulted and raped .
“The criminals also stole departmental work tools, which are used for road maintenance and other assets .
The female staff have been taken in for medical examination and cases have been opened with the police,” the department said .
The department said an investigating team has also visited the department’s offices to initiate an investigation and are giving this case high priority .
After hearing the incident, Transport Community Safety and Liaison MEC, Sipho Hlomuka, immediately assigned the Head of Department, Siboniso Mbhele, to urgently visit the site and to engage with other staff members, who were still traumatised .
After meeting with the office management and staff, Mbhele said the department will look closely at the issue of improving security in the department’s offices and urged the police to move with speed in arresting the suspects .
Mbhele said the incident will affect staff morale and seriously impact on service delivery .
“The cruelty by these criminals against female security officers is unacceptable .
Crime against women must be condemned by all of us, more so during such the critical campaign of no violence against women and children .
“We appeal to the police to activate a high-level investigating team and bring these heartless criminals to book .
We are also addressing the security improvement in our premises to protect staff and our equipment,” Mbhele said .
Mbhele also appealed to the community to work with the police in reporting anyone who is selling departmental equipment .
He said the department has arranged for psycho-social services to assist the staff members at the centre to be able to continue with their daily duties .
The department within eThekwini has been the target of a criminal syndicate that attacks staff members at gunpoint, steal brush cutters and other equipment .
In another incident, a departmental grader was recovered in Camperdown .