Actress Lele Ledwaba wins case of assault against angry female cop

Lele Ledwaba could not hold back the tears as the officer who assaulted her was found guilty.
Lele Ledwaba could not hold back the tears as the officer who assaulted her was found guilty.
Image: Tshepo Kekana

Actress Lele Ledwaba cried hysterically at the Randburg Magistrate's Court yesterday when a police officer accused of assaulting her was found guilty.

But a friend was there for comfort when former Johannesburg Metro Police Department officer Trekkie Ayuk Tikhoni was found guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and for another count of malicious damage to property.

Ledwaba, who is popular for her character as Pinkie in the SABC2 comedy Stokvel, said Tikhoni assaulted her in 2015 after she had accused her of failing to stop at an intersection in Kyalami. According to Ledwaba's court submissions, Tikhoni had stopped a motorist driving ahead of her but quickly let it pass and turned on Ledwaba after recognising her face.

She said Tikhoni bragged to her colleagues, shouting: "look who I have stopped", before subjecting the actress to an hour-and-a-half of beating and verbal abuse. Magistrate Nosiphiwo Gcawu found Ledwaba to be a reliable witness who "did not contradict herself and stuck to her version" of events.

Gcawu questioned Tikhoni's evidence and suggested that the former officer might have changed her statements based on what Ledwaba was saying in court, and because her lawyers failed to question Ledwaba on some parts of her evidence, and even gave testimony which contradicted her own lawyers.

Tikhoni, who submitted to the court that she was a mother herself, allegedly assaulted Ledwaba in front of her then
24-month-old child and refused to let the actresses comfort her crying baby, saying that "celebrity babies are just like normal babies and they did not cry blood."

She admitted to saying those words, but later contradicted herself by claiming she did not know Ledwaba was a celebrity. She said she only knew who she was after hearing about the incident through radio and Sowetan newspaper.

Ledwaba sustained injuries to her right arm, a broken finger and bruises on her body. The actress, who told the court that she was a freelancer, submitted that she lost two months of work due to injuries inflicted by the former officer.

Ledwaba, sporting an ANC scarf thrown over her outfit, was flanked by members of the ANC and her father Abe Ledwaba. The actress said she was relieved that the case was almost over.

"This is not just about me. It's for the hundreds and thousands of other people in South Africa who have suffered at the hands of police officers," Ledwaba said.

"These are people who should protect us and, for her as a woman to do that to another woman, is just painful."

Ledwaba said she was processing the judgment before taking further steps.

"I am just overwhelmed right now and I am trying to process everything."

Her father, who supported her at the court throughout the trial, said he knew from the start his daughter was not lying.

Tikhoni was excused on the charge of malicious damage to property because the report on Ledwaba's cellphone, which was damaged, was missing.

Tikhoni smiled and walked away from the stand after her judgment was handed. She declined to speak to the media. The judge referred the matter to Nicro (National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders) for her to attend anger management assessment.

She will be back in court on April 24 for mitigation of sentencing, where the Nicro report will be presented.

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