Police to cough up for 'torture'
Pretoria - The minister of police has agreed to pay R500 000 to a Hammanskraal farmer who was allegedly tortured while kept in custody for 16 days.
A settlement, in terms of which the minister agreed to pay farmer Willie Nel the money and his legal costs was made an order in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
Nel claimed in court papers that he was unlawfully arrested at his smallholding near Hammanskraal without any probable cause in December 2002.
He said he was kept in custody at various police stations and a house in Laudium and severely tortured by members of a special task unit.
Nel and his wife Esther were arrested and accused of being members of the Boeremag after a corpse was discovered on his farm.
His friend, Advocate Marius Bouwer, who was at that stage the operational commander of the police's anti-corruption unit, was in 2003 arrested in connection with the murder on the strength of a statement made by Nel.
Nel later testified that he was tortured and forced to sign a statement that was already drawn up.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in 2008 awarded Bouwer R205 000 damages for his wrongful arrest and three-day detention.
Bouwer alleged his arrest was part of a campaign to drive white members out of the police force.
Nel claimed in court papers that police cuffed him to a chair and kicked him on his kidneys, back and body with such force that he urinated blood and still experienced problems when he urinated.
He alleged one of the policemen who arrested him, Sergeant Tommy Pooko, threatened to shoot him and told him he had not yet seen how he assaulted a boer, causing him to fear for his life.
Nel alleged he was falsely accused of being a member or taking part in the activities of the Boeremag, was falsely charged with armed robbery and assault and was refused permission to contact anyone while in custody.
He claimed police also tortured him by administering electrical shocks to his private parts and suffocated him with a piece of rubber tubing and that he was then forced to sleep on a bare cement floor while in severe pain.
Nel was arrested on various occasions in connection with a range of charges, but these were either withdrawn against him or he was acquitted.
A damages claim by Nel's wife was earlier settled when the minister of police agreed to pay her R140 000.
A psychologist, Kobus Truter, said in a report the couple both suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and Nel developed severe anxiety disorder after his ordeal.
He said the couple was still confused about the 19 cases originally opened against Nel, but later withdrawn.
Nel was extremely bitter and uncertain about his future as he felt he was being victimised by the police, the psychologist said.