The Night I was Assaulted – by Christabel Steel-Dadzie

Every day, Ghanaian women and men suffer the indignities of physical assault and verbal abuse by those who feel empowered and at liberty to do so. And while these follies are not uniquely Ghanaian in nature, they must be addressed head-on because they affect us as Ghanaians.  We only compound our inability to better ourselves and our society when we ignore the ills taking place in our midst – or worse – point to the ills of other societies for vindication, hoping to absolve ourselves from wrongdoing.

No one is immune from the rot that festers in the bowels and minds of the power hungry civil “servant”, security guard, mayor or police officer. The sludge they discharge with every mean act threatens to drown us all. I am grateful that Christabel Steel-Dadzie has had the courage to speak up about her assault. Please read her story till the end and share. It’s past time we begin to hold those who continue to abuse their posts accountable.

*****

I have so many emotions as I write about this incident – first because I had such an amazing Saturday celebrating my country – it’s beauty, it’s wealth, heritage, pride, etc…. but like most things in life, not long after your golden moments, you are starkly reminded of the reality of a broken system, a broken country…

My cousin asked me to help her run an errand, as family does, I hopped into the car, picked her and up and we were on for a fun 1-hour+ ride – we spent the whole journey reminiscing about the good old days, family members we had lost and were memorializing…

We arrived at our destination around 7:20pm and the following unfolded:

I got to the gate of a gated community I had been to several times. Surprisingly they opened the gate for me (later on lied that they didn’t open the gate but that they had let a taxi in prior to our getting there and I followed; somehow that taxi vanished…) Because I know how the system works and I have been brought up generally to obey ‘the law’, I stopped of my own volition. The (female) security guard was taken aback and it took her a few seconds before I think she realized she didn’t know me, so asked who I was looking for… I mentioned the name of the person I was going to see, but knowing she (my hostess) wasn’t the house owner, and they have been confused by that before, I begun to dial her number…

Security guard asks, as I dial – do you know the house number, I am talking on the phone and at the same time say, I am not sure, but she’s calling you. We hear the phone ringing in the security office… The security guard (female) says that I am blocking the entrance and therefore if a car is coming behind me they won’t be able to enter. I look in the rear view mirror, no car… The phone has stopped ringing so I know they have talked to my hostess… so I say again, she has responded, so can I simply go? I will move away if a car shows up…

There are 4 other men standing around, some in uniform, others not… Security guard tells me to go and park… I say, she has called, so can I go? Within a matter of seconds, 4 men are yelling at me to park, so I say in a very calm voice – “I am not sure why you are yelling at me, I haven’t done anything wrong and I don’t think you should treat humans this way.” Another man (not in uniform) shows up and pokes his fingers literally in my eyes and bellows “PARK! PARK! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? PARK!” At this point, I get upset and I say again, “you cannot talk to me that way, you need to calm down!”…. Dude then does what is done by most people in power “SHOWS ME WHERE POWER LIES!”… Yells his head off at us and stands in front of our vehicle… “You will not enter this community” “You will have to run over me first!”…. To be very honest with you, for a quick second, I almost moved forward just to prove a point – but thank God for the Cross and home training, I backed off and put off my engine.

My cousin at this point is livid; she says, “Ewuradjoa, since we are decent people and won’t run him over, let’s lock up and walk.” We get out of the car, and within seconds the so called security guard (not in uniform by the way), shoves me hard! I was shocked! Stood still for a quick second – What just happened? Did he just hit me? I wondered?… Found myself saying the words out loud “No, you didn’t just hit me!”… Oh apparently that was uncalled for; how dare me small girl driving (my father, or is it sugar daddy’s) four-wheel drive and I think I know everything – how can I question whether he’s hit me?

Oh then round two – He hits my arm again!

A woman who was entering the complex and saw him hit me – literally in the act (she was in her car with some kids) starts yelling – did you just hit a woman? You should never hit a woman, no matter what! And said a few more things that I didn’t hear and then drove off…

EWURADE! At this point, my cousin went ballistic! “How dare you touch her?” She pulls out her camera to document the issue, and dude-no-uniform-security-guard throws his arm at her – a punch that would have landed straight in her face, had she not moved swiftly backwards…

At this point, I am in so much shock that I go back and sit in the car – so

  1. He hit me!
  2. He hit me again because I questioned him and told him not to touch me

Then to top it all off

3. He attempts to hit my cousin (bo ne ni su style – sorry! I can’t find the English translation for this)

A number of people start gathering at the scene. I hear someone calling the head of security… I call my hostess… The ‘head of security’

(I put in inverted commas because I have no idea who anyone is, coz no one wears ID)… comes with another man to ask me what happened… I narrate the story; head of security walks away; comes back about 10 minutes later and says “He really hit you didn’t he?” I say “he sure did”… dude on the side goes “REALLY???” At this point, I get emotional! Did I not just narrate the entire story to this man a few minutes ago and tell him I was assaulted? Why should he question that I would make that up? Unfortunately, on paper, I can’t quite express this moment – I looked around – all men! I felt dirty; incomplete, I don’t even know what else… Why should I lie about such a thing?

So I said to the man, once I was able to catch a breath in between crying, “I am educated enough to know that it is a grievous issue to accuse a man of hitting me,… so I would never make that up!” Apparently this man only heard the word “educated” so started yelling at me and schooling me about how I didn’t know who he was or how educated he is!… At this point, I just give up!

I call my cousin and hostess; I announce to them – I am going to the police and I would love to see this man go to jail just to set an example of him to many! Of course, they all scoff… and apparently rightfully so, because I didn’t know what was just about to happen…

Fortunately, there is a police station around the corner (we find out later that the apartment complex built the station)… We get there – “Good evening (there were 2 officers I could see) I would like to file a complaint. I have just been assaulted.”… Out of nowhere I hear a male voice yelling “what did you do to him before he touched you?”… I almost fainted! WOW!!! (I later realize that there is another officer behind the counter lying on a bench as he yells at me)…

source: GhanatoGhana

source: GhanatoGhana

At this point, I give up! I can’t even find the words… So my cousin narrates the story… One of the cops writes my name and contact information on a tattered piece of paper … My cousin asks, “we would like to file a complaint; can we get the form?”… The officer responds in a very stand-offish voice, “there is no form… you have to go to a government hospital and get a doctor to endorse that you were assaulted, then you come back and then we will document the issue further and then find an investigator to go with you to find the person…” My cousin says, you realize we are way outside Accra and more than likely can’t get to a government hospital tonight? She retorts “that’s the system and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Oh and by the way, this is the only police station that I can continue the case with… so pretty much would have to go sit at a government hospital for say 5 hours; after a 2 hour drive, then do another 1-2 hour drive back to tell them that the doctor says they can’t physically see any bruises so it’s cool! Just WOWWWW!!!

At this point, I am confused, still shocked by what just happened, and I find myself walking back to the car… I am simply speechless! We drive back to the complex to drop off my hostess who has been apologizing the entire time for this embarrassing and uncalled for event… We get to the gate and the ‘head of security’ comes to me to tell me that since his CCTV camera is not working, there is nothing he can do about the situation; moreover all the other staff who witnessed the event have just told him that the guy never touched me… He continues to say that it is my prerogative to pursue the police case, but on his end, it’s pretty much a done deal… I respond “Sir, wait until he kills someone before you do something about it! Since that’s the order of the day in our country.”

We drive off…

Am I physically hurt? – my arm hurts only slightly, but I am absolutely fine… I contemplated the entire night if I wanted to pursue the case… but I realized the sad truth – we have a broken system, and it’s as simple as that! A system that frustrates the ‘victim’ to the point that more often than not, you’ll just let the matter go… which is where I am. For the first time ever, I really wish I knew some commandoes who would go and ‘rough’ them up! I swear, that’s my innate feeling! But again, Thank God for the Cross, so I know what is right and won’t advocate for that – but I can really relate to instant justice within our system…

Ok… Let’s just say I was completely wrong; even then, he had absolutely no right to hit me – TWICE! And then no one would believe it; then those who saw it just blatantly lied! Then I go to the cops and they yell at me with an accusing tone of being responsible for why I was hit??!!! And I bet you my last cedi that I will meet them all at church on Sunday, or at the mosque on Friday… There’s so much wrong with all of this right here!…

I am writing this, not because I have been hospitalized, but because I want to tell my story, even if you think it’s not substantial enough, an assault is an assault, and should simply not be allowed! I am still meditating and trying to figure out why this happened to me, as I am a firm believer in “everything happens for a reason”… I think maybe God allowed me to go through this to help me relate to someone else who is going through the same thing and – possibly doesn’t know her right; or believes that she should let it go”… People, assault is not about physical bruises but more about the emotional and psychological implications of the assault…. And we should all stand up to our broken system, in any little way shape or form, to make changes…  

 

THIS MADNESS MUST STOP!

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15 thoughts on “The Night I was Assaulted – by Christabel Steel-Dadzie

  1. Aisha

    This is absolutely ridiculous! No society should ever allow this to happen. No matter how far we think we have progressed as a country, incidents like this show how little regard is had for the female gender and for human rights. Assault is a CRIME! If law enforcement personnel cannot do their jobs deterring this and other crimes, then what can the citizens do? What is this??? Are we in the stone age? Thanks for sharing your story, Christabel.

  2. Bud

    I. Just. Can’t. Honestly, What the hell is going on in our countries?!!! So glad you’re ok at least, though I’d be fuming so much I’d probably take out a hit on that fool!

  3. Dede Lartey

    I cannot believe this..and they still get paid. Ghana when will all this rubbish stop. There wasn’t a form at the police station? And u have to go to the Drs.first?. We are so premitive. We live In a society or country when men buly women and for some reason they think it’s fine. Sorry to hear this happened to you. I know you are a strong. Woman and you will get over it but it should t end there Chris,they should be sacked. What is the name of the security company they work for? In order for this not to be repeated, something drastic has to be done…better Ghana nmpo no….smdh

    1. Malaka Post author

      Hi Dede. I’m answering on Chris’ behalf in case she doesn’t get a chance to reply you. As you can imagine, a lot of people are livid!

      I asked her the same question and she said apparently they are not a proper licensed entity. (That may be why they were in plain clothes.)
      She’s still doing some digging!

  4. Faf

    “Stand up to our broken system.. to make changes” but you let something as simple as having to wait a few hours in a hospital get in the way of you pursuing charges.

    This means the guy is free to assault another person again. Have convictions and see them through.

    You may have been wrong in not parking when they asked you to, no matter what tone they struck with you… Security doesn’t have to be nice to you if you’re not listening to what they are saying but they’re not allowed to touch you.

    They have lots of tools they can use e.g. tow your car, clamp it etc but even touching you whether it left bruises or not is not allowed. So suck it up and see it through. Push it all the way and if nothing at all, even if he gets away with it, he and anyone else there would have learnt a lesson in what they limits are.

    They could have simply let you walk away and towed your car and maybe that’s what they will learn to do next time they have disagreements with visitors

    1. Wesi

      YOu have a point here. Sometimes we just dont want to go through the additional stress of pursuing justice…and i think that is why there are no forms at the police station and the procedure is so tedious. the idea is to deter people interested in pursuing justice. and sadly it works.
      Even more sadly is the fact that talking about it on social media will have zero effect on change on the ground!

  5. Mike

    Forgive me for having not read the full entry. It’s a bit long and frankly I got bored at some point because I (sadly) knew where the narrative was going after you both initially emerged from the car.

    I stopped, not because I didn’t or don’t care to read more or empathize. But because from both the entry and the comments, it seems the lot of you seem to miss something about locals that should always branded into the inner recesses of your frontal lobes and learn to train your impulses to react to it in the same way you avoid fire or instinctively duck when you hear a loud bang.

    LOCAL GHANAIANS DO NOT LIKE YOU!

    Ever been educated, live/lived abroad, have a legit western accent, appear well-to-do, or could be highly misconstrued as monied?
    They don’t like you. Even if you were charitable and a saintly mother Theresa, they’ll still find something about you to dislike.

    A Ghanaian will smile begrudgingly; s/he will even be effusive in their ass-kissing, lovey-dovey …,look, I could go on and on, but as cynical as I may sound, it’s the unfortunate truth: they really don’t like you.

    Times are hard. You drive a car. It doesn’t have to be an suv. You’ve travelled “outside.” You live or have access to fancy places only the wealthy can venture. You’re everything they know they cannot be and will never be.

    How do you think they’ll act when they feel the tables have turned and they (even for a nano-eecond) have a chance to feel bigger than you? I see this at every institution where a local feels that for once, he/she doesn’t have to kiss your ass. They’re rent-a-cops when can’t even pass as the real thing. They have to sit all day watching rich estate residents and their friends come and go, and make pesewases on the dollars they imagine you make. And at the end of each day, they have to chase down that last tro-tro to go to the cramped chamber and hall they share with 3 other people. When a growling dog wants to rip you to pieces, you do one of two things. 1. you learn to acknowledge that threat; where it’s coming from and consciously ignore it until it simmers and he loses interest. Or, 2. you calmly (not submissively) play nice doggie until you find a rock. Your rock in this case should’ve been your car and your phone. 1. Stay in the car. It’s a beautiful and powerful 2-ton weapon. If you threaten me, I will run you over! Any attempt to assault you while you’re IN the car allows you that universal right to self-defense. 2. You should’ve kept on the phone with your guest and made sure they arrived BEFORE you left the car.

    I hate to say this, but be glad this wasn’t some dark street with few witnesses, or this could’ve easily turned to rape and murder. Don’t be victims to these hoodlums next time or there won’t be a next time.

  6. Aba

    I have to start by saying that I do not condone violence of any sort and agree that nobody has any right to touch anybody!
    Having cleared that, I need to share my own experience of this whole gated community living and how bad I feel for the security guys sometimes.
    Look Mike, I have everything you say and more but you know what, I find that people whoever they are and wherever they are respond to you the way you treat them.

    I have personally , witnessed the security personnel being physically and verbally abused by a resident for having the gall to question their guest and I also once heard a guy shout at them that he was a doctor and had had a long day so they shouldn’t waste his time with all the questioning
    To be honest with you, the way some of the residents behave towards them, it makes you wonder why they chose to buy in a gated place in the first place!
    My husband and I have no problems with them whatsoever because as we only live there on a part time basis, we can rest assured that our place is safe. In fact, the only time we complain is when they have let someone in without our say so.
    I remember a time when my husband’s friend showed up at the gate without prior notice and expected to be let in because he was driving a top of the range car! The guys asked him to call us first so we would instruct them to let him in but he refused and so they wouldn’t let him in . He chose to cause a scene rather than call my husband and in the end , drove back home. I was not impressed with him but then again he has always been an arrogant prat.

    Personally, I think it’s time rich people in Ghana learnt that rules are meant for everyone and that they should give everyone their due respect no matter how lowly paid they might be.

    1. Malaka Post author

      Aba: You’ve highlighted a problem that has been ongoing for years. There is indeed a divide between classes (and I hate to use the word) of Ghanaians that has long existed. Returnees or those who are perceived to have the benefit of having been/lived abroad do not make it better with their attitudes. I’ve seen it myself on numerous occasions.

      I think it just boils down to respect, no matter how you slice it. The guard had no right to touch her, and I do not get the sense that she was out of order in any manner. It seems there are no processes and procedures in place that govern these stations, and that’s sorely needed. Did you note that the head security officer said that the CCTV feed wasn’t working? That’s troubling indeed, if my fees are going towards towards ensuring this level of security! That aside, we all need to work on treating each other with common courtesy, no matter what our income and education level.

      Thanks for your comment!

  7. Susan

    Unfortunately Christabel, this is common occurrence and I can totally relate. Security guards in this country are poorly trained and many have a chip on their shoulder,, which they exhibit anytime they encounter a woman, even worse when she appears to be better educated. As for the police the least said about them the better. One of the commentators( Aba) said some /residents/guests are rude and arrogant towards them that is certainly no excuse to assault a guest ( probably would not dare with a resident). If they were properly trained , they would know how to hold their temper and keep their composure in the face of an irate guest or resident. Also they have a right to report and resident who is consistently rude and uncooperative. My small bone to pick with Christabel is that she did not mention the name of the gated community and that of the police station. It is about time we name and shame.

  8. Aba

    Susan, if you had taken the trouble to read my post properly, you would have noted that the first line clearly stated that I did not condone violence of any sort. All I tried to do was to bring another perspective to an on going discussion and share what I had personally witnessed.
    To be honest with you, I think the worst people in Ghana and I’m sure Africa as a whole are so called educated people. It’s almost as if their being educated entitles them to preferential treatment and the reason to be obnoxious , condescending and downright rude to people who are only doing their Job.
    The rules are very simple: if you intend to visit , you inform your hosts and they in turn inform security but for some reason some people think they can turn up any time they want and be let in .

    I remember a particular lady resident who had to be spoken to on a number of occasions because she was always giving the security guys a hard time and the few times I attended the residents’ meeting she was always on the agenda.
    Like everything , you will always find people who abuse their position and give everybody else a bad name but I believe if any body needs to lose the chip on their shoulder, it’s people who think they are victims because they are better educated, rich and wear their acquired accents like a badge of honour !

    1. Faf

      Sounds like you just needed a sounding board to bash a collective you don’t particularly like, but maybe I’m imagining it.

  9. Aba

    Bashing a collective I don’t particularly like ! Really!
    If you must know, I’m one of these so called educated returnees but that doesn’t mean I’m blind to their antics.
    I went to university when there were only 3 in the country and I also attended the best girls’ secondary school in Ghana at the time . I have done very well outside and been happily married for nearly twenty five years with 2 beautiful intelligent and well grounded young ladies, one of whom has just graduated with first class honors from a very prestigious university.
    My point is that you can be rich, successful educated and privileged and not have to be condescending to people less fortunate than yourself.
    I also firmly believe Ghanaians should learn to show appreciation for people who serve them daily and that includes domestic servants, drivers , security men and others who make their lives easier !

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