Illegal arrest: women to get R95 000 each in damages

2015-06-30 10:27
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Pietermaritzburg - Judges of appeal in Pietermaritzburg have upheld a decision to award R95 000 in damages to each of three women who were illegally arrested, detained and maliciously prosecuted in the Kwandengezi, Pinetown, area in 2009.

They are 50-year-old grandmother Beauty Mbundwini and her two daughters, Antonella Mtshali, 21, and Ruth Mtshali, 31. According to the facts that were accepted by the trial magistrate, the women (and two young children) were arrested and detained illegally and maliciously on the orders of a police sergeant, Edward Ruben, whose team had been searching for Mbundwini’s son, Saziso.

The evidence revealed that the police arrived at their home in the early hours of January 21, 2009, without a warrant. They were granted permission to search for Saziso.

The court found that Ruben had “planted” ammunition in a vase in the home, after which the women and two children (a 4-year-old and an 11-month-old baby) were driven around in the back of a police van while police searched for Saziso.

After he was found, the women and children were detained in a cell overnight, made to share just a single blanket between them and were not given any food.

Mbundwini was “physically intimidated and taunted” at the police station by Ruben, whilst other police officers looked on and didn’t intervene.

The trio were unjustifiably charged with unlawful possession of ammunition and assaulting a police officer, and were only released at 3.45 pm the following day.

After various court appearances, the charges against them were withdrawn in court on March 9.

The appeal court was approached on behalf of the Minister of Safety and Security to reduce the amount of damages awarded to each of the victims from R95 000 to R15 000 on grounds that the award by Pinetown magistrate I. Malek was excessive.

However, in a written judgment, Judge Jaqueline Henriques and Judge Mahendra Chetty found the magistrate did not misdirect himself and dismissed the appeal.

Judge Henriques said the police in the case acted with malice and improper motives and without any just cause.

“The respondents [the victims] were taunted and held in custody in inhumane conditions for no valid justifiable reason,” she said

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  police brutality

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