Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, July 29, 2020 - A Black woman is speaking out after being left in the lurch by the justice system after she was violently assaulted and arrested by a security guard at Place Desormeaux mall in Longueuil last month.

The incident took place on Wednesday, June 10, in the afternoon, when Masabatha Sylvia Kakandjika, a 41-year-old Black South African mother, went to the Place Desormeaux mall with her four children to fill out some paperwork with the Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité Sociale (MTESS) located in the mall.

When she arrived, she parked her car close to the entrance, rolled down the car windows, turned the air conditioning on, and left her 11-year-old son, Marc-Andy, in charge of his three siblings while she went inside to drop off a document, knowing that she would not be gone for more than a few minutes.

At the entrance, a security guard asked her if she had an appointment at the SAAQ, to which she responded that she didn’t, and that she was actually going to the MTESS office located next door. Ignoring her, the guard told her that she needed to join the SAAQ line. A second guard then arrived who, despite Kakandjika’s objections, also insisted that she wait in the SAAQ line. She then went to check on her children and reluctantly joined the line.

After waiting outside for more than 15 minutes, a third security guard came out and finally led her into the building and to the entrance of the SAAQ. Kakandjika then told him that she was not going to the SAAQ but to the MTESS next door. He told her to go wait in the correct line outside the MTESS office.

Before she could get there, the second guard she interacted with approached her and asked her again where she was going, to which she explained, again, that she was going to stand in line outside the MTESS office. Annoyed, Kakandjika told the guard that it was unfair of him and his colleagues to make her stand in the wrong line for so long, while her children waited in the car for longer than necessary.

This guard asked Kakandjika how old her children were. Confused by the question, she told him their age. Suddenly, he ordered her to step out of the line and walk towards him, at which point he informed her that he was placing her under arrest.

When asked why she was placed under arrest, he told her that it was for “negligence” without further explanation. He then aggressively and without warning grabbed her hands and tried to handcuff her. Terrified, Kakandjika instinctively pulled away from him. The guard then accused her of resisting arrest.

He then grabbed her by her neck and tried to pin her down, kicking in her ribs. Kakandjika started screaming for help, and told the guard to let go of her neck because she couldn’t breathe. As she struggled to breathe, he violently slammed her head against the wall.

During the assault, she tried to phone her husband, whose number she had on speed-dial. One of her calls went through, and when her husband picked up the phone, he could hear her screaming that she could not breathe before the call abruptly disconnected.

While she was gasping for air, two bystanders arrived to intervene, at which point she was able to get away briefly and began running towards her car. She could hear her children crying, and screaming for Marc-Andy, to help her. Her son then got out of the car and put himself between her and the guard who was still trying to grab and arrest her.

Kakandjika told the guard that she worked as a law enforcement officer in her native country, and that there was no need to be so violent. The guard said: “This is not your country, this is Canada, I am an officer of the law and I have a right to arrest you.” When she told the guard what he said was racist, he told her to “not pull that card on [him]”.

With her son and two bystanders standing in between her and the guard, Kakandjika was finally able to dial 911. Police officers arrived shortly after, and after seeing the cuts and bruises on Kakandjika, the police arrested and charged the guard with assault.

“I was scared for my life, I couldn’t breathe, and the only two things that came to my mind were my children, and George Floyd,” Kakandjika said. “Here I was pinned to the ground, brutally strangled and beaten. I thought I was going to die just like he did,” she added.

“Since I have experienced a similar assault in my home country, the psychological impact on my children and me has been severe,” she said.

She and her two older children are now seeking counseling. Marc-Andy has been particularly affected and since become often anxious that she will be attacked again.

Adding to her stress, Kakandjika has yet to hear back from the police. A worker from the Crime Victims Assistance Center (CAVAC) called, but took an accusatory tone and asked her whether guard might have hurt her “unintentionally.” She chose not to discuss with the CAVAC worker any further.

“This is unacceptable and excessive force on a Black mother. The guard and his employer must be held accountable,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

CRARR will help Kakandjika file a complaint against the guard with the Bureau de la Sécurité Privée. In addition, it is following up with the Longueuil Police department to see where it is presently within the criminal justice system. It is also examining other civil recourses for her.