Police minister ordered to pay man R30 000 for police error

By Drum Digital
09 September 2016

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has been ordered to pay an Eastern Cape man R 30 000 in damages or wrongful arrest and detention.

By Aphiwe Boyce

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko has been ordered to  pay an Eastern Cape man R 30 000 in damages or wrongful arrest and detention.

This order by the Grahamstown High Court in Eastern Cape was made after a Kirkwood police officer misinterpreted the law when he arrested and detained Bernie Swarts on 17 June 2012. The trial court in Kirkwood  initially ruled in his favour and was awarded him R30 000 for damages   against the police, but the police minister appealed the ruling.

The Grahamstown High Court found thatthe police arrested  Swarts without a warrant of arrest.  The arrest was in connection with a charge of use of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent. The arresting officer Steven Johnson detained him at the police station for about an hour and half.

This was after Johnson went into an accident scene after Swarts had an accident while driving his employer’s  delivery vehicle.  The vehicle was   extensively damaged.  After interviewing Swarts about how the motor vehicle got to be damaged, Johnson found out that the vehicle did not belong to the driver. Johnson got hold of the owner. The latter informed Johnson that Swarts was using the vehicle without his consent and that he intended laying a charge against him.

Johnson arrested Swarts without the warrant of arrest for using the motor vehicle without the owner’s consent.  This was despite Swarts being employed at the store at the time.

Swarts was released from custody and was given a notice to appear in court on the following day. In court Johnson denied that when he arrested Swarts he was carrying out the instruction of the owner of Build it store.

Handing down the judgment, Judge Phakamisa Tshiki contended that no offence was committed in the presence of Johnson who arrested Swarts.  “This makes Johnson’s conduct or the arrest unlawful. Further  to that, Johnson arrested the respondent without a reasonable and probable cause for doing so.

“The Magistrate did not find merit in the appellant’s contention that the unlawful use of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent was a form of theft,”   said the judge

Find Love!

Men
Women