Torture claim: Cops must pay up

2013-03-19 22:15
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Johannesburg - The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday ordered the minister of police to pay R170 000 in damages to a former security guard.

Judge Aubrey Ledwaba ordered the police to pay compensation to Mike Neo Mofokeng, who was unlawfully arrested, detained and tortured by the police in November 2009.

Mofokeng reported to the police a robbery at the place he was guarding in September 2009.

He was picked up and taken to the Johannesburg Central police station a month later.

He was detained in the police cells for two days before being released.

Mofokeng testified that he was handcuffed and his legs were tied together while he was interrogated by two policemen.

Water was poured into a tube which was put on his face to suffocate him about four times.

While torturing him, one of the policemen insisted that he tell the truth.

The policemen also sat on his body while he was lying down and hit him with open hands so that he sustained an injury to his head.

He testified that he fabricated a story and admitted to receiving R20 000 for his role in the "robbery", because he was in excruciating pain and feared he would be killed.

He was then taken to his aunt's house to look for the money and was again slapped and threatened with death when he told the police he had lied to them.

His cousin objected to his arrest and told the police they should stop assaulting him.

Brixton detective Musawenkosi Simelane, who arrested Mofokeng, admitted that he had not been satisfied with Mofokeng's answers, but denied that Mofokeng was handcuffed or tortured.

Ledwaba said the police had not made the docket or occurrence books at the police station available to the court.

He said Mofokeng was a credible witness whose evidence that he was tortured was corroborated by a medical report detailing abrasions on his wrists and tenderness of his neck, both knees and lower back.

Mofokeng initially claimed in court papers that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, but a medical report described his mental health as "normal".

Ledwaba said that although Mofokeng had exaggerated the effect of his injuries, there was no justification to reject of his version of the assault.

He described Simelane as an unimpressive witness.

Simelane had claimed it was impossible for him to assault Mofokeng because his right hand was injured.

However, the manner in which he gesticulated while testifying did not convince the court he had been unable to take part in the assault.

"In my view, the probabilities are that Simelane wanted to exert pressure on the plaintiff to "confess" that he was involved in the robbery.

"Despite the fact that, according to him, he explained to the plaintiff that he has a right to remain silent, he forced him to talk.

"He could have released the plaintiff on the day of his arrest. His conduct was in my view unlawful, unjustified and malicious," Ledwaba said.

Read more on:    police  |  nathi mthethwa  |  johannesburg  |  police brutality

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