She could not identify herself – Police respond to the 15-year-old Hillbrow girl who was arrested for “looking like a foreigner”

Gauteng police have defended the arrest of a 15-year-old girl from Hillbrow in Johannesburg, stating that they acted on “reasonable grounds” when taking her into custody on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant.

The teenager, who was detained in police holding cells for a week due to her inability to produce identification proving her citizenship, recounted her distressing experience to Sowetan.

Gauteng police spokesperson Col Dimakatso Nevhuhulwi emphasized that the police were authorized by law to request identification from individuals to verify their citizenship or lawful presence in the country.

“The police acted on that basis. The person in question was stopped and requested to be searched and identify themselves, and she was allegedly not cooperative hence she was taken to the police station,” Nevhuhulwi stated.

Nevhuhulwi further explained that if the teenager felt she was treated unfairly, she had the option to lodge a formal complaint with the district commissioner or the Gauteng Service Complaints.

Additionally, the matter could be reported to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate for further investigation.

The teenager’s ordeal began when she was arrested while walking from the shops and spent an hour in custody at Hillbrow police station before her father arrived with her birth certificate to confirm her South African citizenship.

Despite her protests about being a minor and lacking identification, she was reportedly denied the opportunity to contact her parents.

The South African Human Rights Commission has initiated an investigation into the incident, expressing concerns about the application of the law in this particular case.

The grade 9 pupil recounted a distressing encounter with female officers during a search, alleging inappropriate physical contact and unjust accusations when attempting to assert her rights.

Also Read: Three Zimbabweans crossed the border to SA to kill a German tourist

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