SCA dismisses appeal on wrongful arrest
Bloemfontein - An appeal by the minister of police against a court order awarding damages to a Gauteng man for unlawful arrest and defamation was dismissed on Tuesday by the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Roelof Kruger of Rayton in Gauteng claimed damages against the police for unlawful arrest and defamation after he was held under a defective warrant of arrest in 2003.
The police were accompanied by a television news crew of e.tv, which compiled a news report of the arrest with visual images for broadcast the same evening.
The minister argued that the state was exempted from liability for the unlawful arrest by a section of the SA Police Service Act.
This was rejected.
The SCA held that the section exempted the individual police officer from liability but not the state. It confirmed the damages awarded by the High Court in the sum of R50 000.
Kruger also claimed that the police were responsible for the presence of the television crew when the arrest was made. He submitted that the state was accordingly liable for the damage caused by the news broadcast.
The minister submitted that the evidence did not establish that the police had been responsible for their presence, but this was also rejected by the SCA.
The SCA held that the state was liable for the defamation.
The Bloemfontein court held that the damages of R300 000 awarded by the High Court were excessive and reduced the award to R20 000.