Well done: Captain Dhawraj secured 20 life sentences and a collective 70 years imprisonment for 25 convicted rapists and GBV perpetrators

Amongst her many assignments, Captain Michelle Dhawrajh secured the sentencing of a 35-year-old uncle to life in prison for the rape of his eight-month-old niece

Captain Michelle Dhawrajh ha bseen commended for going over and above the call of duty to combat gender-based violence. Picture: Supplied

Published Dec 17, 2023


Crime buster Captain Michelle Dhawrajh is a force to be reckoned with.

With her meticulous ‘investigative prowess’, she has secured 20 life sentences, and a collective 70 years imprisonment for 25 convicted rapists and Gender Based Violence perpetrators.

Dhawrajh works for the KwaZulu-Natal Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Investigations (FCS) Unit.

Recently, she and several other officers from across the country were celebrated through a media campaign, for their hard work as part of the the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign which wrapped up on Sunday (SUBS: December 10)

Dhawrajh, 51, was born and raised in Verulam and in Isipingo. She now resides in Illovo Beach.

Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, an SAPS spokesperson, said: “Twenty five suspects are doing time in prison thanks to Dhawrajh’s meticulous investigative prowess. She is also passionate about raising awareness and sensitising communities on reporting of rape and other sexual offences.

“Amongst her many assignments, Captain Dhawrajh secured the sentencing of a 35-year-old uncle to life in prison for the rape of his eight-month-old niece.”

In an interview with the POST, Dhawrajh - a mother of three aged 15, 27 and 29 - said in her 32 years of service in the SAPS, it took about 20 years to specialise in her investigative skills.

She said skills like problem solving abilities, attention to detail, investigation and team work were essential to her work.

On the emotional toll of her work, Dhawrajh said: “I am a strong independent female with a mind set for justice. Some of these cases like child porn, rape and child abuse can be very traumatising. Also dealing with the victims is tough. But, I am able to overcome all obstacles, especially when my perseverance leads to justice for the victims.

“I have excellent family support and I am also strong in my faith. I grew up believing that injustice and crimes against our women and children go against the moral ethics, and offenders should be punished. I am well experienced in my field of work and I believe that justice always prevails.”

She said the key to her success was her passion for what she does.

“I enjoy working with people, both adults and children. I am also dedicated and committed to ensuring that, in all cases where suspects are arrested, that the investigation is completed timeously and before trial. I want to see justice served and the perpetrators behind bars; to bring comfort to the victims.

“The key to my success is seeing victims get justice, to see them relieved and less fearful of the world today. Victims who overcome all injustices, and are strong with their willpower, motivate me to push through all obstacles and look to a brighter day tomorrow,” said Dhawrajh.

She urged the community to stop alcohol and drug abuse as these were major contributors to most crimes committed against women and children. She said more people in communities must become involved and report cases to stop the scourge of GBV.

A day in the life...

Captain Michelle Dhawrajh recalled one of her most emotionally challenging cases.

“A 17-year-old was walking to school in Isipingo when she was stopped by a male who then prophesied to her about her relationship with her mother. The victim thought this to be precise. The accused then advised the victim to go home with him to conduct a ritual so that she would know who her real father was.

“The victim was then raped during the night without a condom. The victim only left the accused’s house the following day. She was unable to identify the crime scene to the police as all houses look similar in the informal settlements. Due to hard work and dedication, the suspect was found using a mind game method of interrogation. He was arrested for kidnapping in another case.”

Dhawrajh said statements were taken, the rape victim was brought for an informal identification parade and she positively identified the accused. The accused was then linked to another case by the investigating team.

She said the man was sentenced to two life imprisonments.

Dhawrajh said her typical day started at 6am with her checking the computer for newly reported cases that were applicable to her unit.

“A report is then given to the provincial FCS office in respect of the new cases received. By 7:30 we have our morning parade with my members. This is where we discuss the new cases and a plan of action for the day.”

During the course of investigations, administration duties and meetings are juggled. These include coordinating trips for investigation, attending crime scenes with members, interviewing victims and witnesses, obtaining medical reports, forwarding evidence collection kits to forensics, tracing and arresting suspects and inspecting dockets - going to and coming from the courts.

“I remain on standby after 4pm to assist in new cases if required,” said Dhawrajh.