- Charlie Niemann, 29, said he was arrested for drink driving with Cherise, 3
- He denies he was drunk when he took daughter to buy milk and cigarettes
- Claims officers refused to take Cherise home or allow him to make phone call
- Mother Stephanie, 30, said the youngster is now terrified of police officers
- Mr Niemann has filed complaint and official probe has been launched
A three-year-old girl allegedly spent the night locked in a freezing South African jail cell with her father, barefoot and only wearing her pyjamas.
Cherise Niemann was so traumatised by her ordeal, on January 6, that she has been receiving counselling ever since to help control panic attacks brought on whenever she sees a policeman.
Upon arrival to the police station in Hazyview, Johannesburg, officers even denied the hysterical toddler a drink of water and refused to take her home or allow her father to call somebody to pick her up, her parents claim.
Instead, they say, she was forced to sleep in a cold, bare holding cell with her father as the unfamiliar sound of slamming doors, clanging chains and abusive drunks echoed throughout the police station.
Now her father, Charlie, has branded the arresting officers 'inhuman' and has demanded answers as to why his daughter was exposed to such horrors that would haunt the dreams of even the most confident of toddlers.
Her ordeal began when police stopped Niemann, 29, on suspicion of drink driving as he took his daughter out to buy milk and cigarettes.
He claims that, after his arrest, police officers took them both to the station for interview, refusing to take Cherise home or allow him to call for someone to pick her up.
He admits to having drunk two beers earlier in the night but denies that he was drunk when he took the youngster out in the car.
He said: 'It was terrible. My child was hysterical. The officials were inhuman.
Fears: According to Cherise's mother Stephanie, 30, who was pregnant with the couple¿s second child, the youngster is now terrified of police officers
Complaint: Mr Niemann claims that after being arrested police officers refused to take Cherise home or allow him to call for someone to pick her up
'They even refused to give her water. When we got there and Cherise was crying, one threatened to throw her in a police cell if I couldn't get her to calm down.'
According to Cherise's mother Stephanie, 30, who was pregnant with the couple’s second child, said the youngster is now terrified of police officers.
'We have taken Cherise to a counsellor and she is getting better. But she is scared of police officers. Whenever she sees a police car, she looks for her dad and starts crying hysterically.'
Niemann has filed a complaint against the police with the independent complaints directorate.
A police spokesperson said it was illegal to lock up a child in a police cell and said it would be investigated.
Tough: South African police are well-known for their uncompromising, and at times aggressive, approach to preventing crime. But a police spokesperson said it was illegal to lock up a child in a police cell and said it would be investigated