By Tabora Bojang
Mariama Beyai, a resident of Brusubi, has alleged that she was arrested by the police and detained for 15 hours, just for screaming when police were beating a suspect in Serekunda.
Mariama, who is fondly called Sibo, claimed that while she was passing through Serekunda market Saturday evening, she came across a big commotion with police officers arresting suspects.
“I was patiently waiting at a corner to let the tension calm when I saw officers descending on a guy and repeatedly slapping him before bundling him into the truck.
As women, these beatings frightened us and we started screaming and all of a sudden, the officers approached us and asked why we were screaming and before I could utter any words, the commander ordered the officers to arrest us and they took us to the PIU headquarters. When we arrived at the PIU, they sat us under a veranda from 5pm Saturday until Sunday morning. I was with three other women Fatou Sanneh, Anna and Musu Camara. All four of us spent the night in the cold and we were not given any food or water. There was one officer who sympathised with us though and bought us bread and wonjo,” Sibo explained.
She said while under detention, she pleaded with the officers to release her because she left behind a baby but they did not listen.
“The commander insisted that I have to call a relative home to bring my child for me to breastfeed her and return the child,” Sibo alleged in a distressed tone.
According to her, the police neither charged nor informed her about reasons of her arrest and prolonged detention.
“When my mother visited the station to inquire about me, one Commander Sarr informed her that I was arrested because I accused the officers of maltreatment. The commander said when they are on raid, they don’t distinguish anybody, everyone must clear him or herself at the station,” she said.
The Standard contacted police deputy spokesperson Cadet ASP Muhammed Darboe for clarifications.
Darboe confirmed the arrest of the women but added that when police are on a mass raid, people found at a particular time or space with potential to abate a particular offence may be arrested, screened and questioned and if nothing is found they are released.
“So, these women found themselves in that circumstance. But to claim that they were not informed of their arrest and detention is false,” he said.
Asp Darboe also dismissed allegations that Sibo and other suspects were not given food or drink.
“If you are detained by the police, you are usually provided food. So I don’t understand that claim,” he said.
He also denied the accusation that Mariama was denied access to her 2-year-old baby.
“All detainees are given access to their relatives much more a baby. So that is not true and the commander did not confirm that with me. I was at the scene and saw family members brought food,” he said.