Officer wins assault case

2015-12-08 10:36
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Pietermaritzburg - A policeman who sued the police minister after he was wrongfully arrested and assaulted by fellow police officers in Scottsville in 2011, has won his case and will be paid damages.

Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Peter Olsen ruled in favour of Captain Paul Williams, saying that members of the Public Order Police Unit “failed to prove” the reasons they arrested Williams and that all injuries sustained by him were the product of assaults perpetrated by the same officers.

Williams was “grabbed” and dragged from his car by several policemen and arrested on the night of September 9, 2011 after he hooted and asked them to move the kombi they were travelling in, which was blocking the road. In his evidence last month, Williams said the officers just looked at him and carried on with what they were doing.

He said he eventually became very frustrated and shouted at a police officer, “Can you please move your bloody vehicle”, which was when the group of policemen descended upon him.

One policeman jumped into the passenger seat and pushed him out of the driver’s door, while another kept a choke hold on his neck whilst dragging him out.

Williams said his hands were handcuffed behind his back and he was forcibly slammed against his car, damaging the rear door. Barefoot, in shorts and T-shirt, he was “dragged along the road” to the police van. He said he felt a hard push from the back that sent him “flying” into the back of the van.

He said his head struck a tyre or similar object in the rear. The door was closed and he lay unmoving face down for what seemed like a long time before the police officers’ “reckless driving” resulted in him being thrown from side to side en-route to Daymed Hospital.

After he left the hospital, he was again handcuffed and flung into the back of the van and injured further due to erratic driving.

Judge Olsen concluded that there were at least two hours between the time Williams was arrested and the time he arrived at the hospital and the return to Alexandra police station.

“It is disturbing that an acceptable explanation for the delay was not ­forthcoming from … the witnesses,” he said in his judgment, adding that the entire unit of policemen were ­“dedicated” to dealing with Williams for the whole night when he posed no danger to anyone.

When questioned why Williams was handcuffed and placed in the back of the double-cab bakkie instead of the back seat, witness Warrant Officer V. Mbongwa said Williams was agitated and the police officers would not have been able to handle him.

Judge Olsen rejected that evidence saying he did not see how a man whose hands were handcuffed would be ­dangerous to the other occupants.

Olsen added that much of what the police officers who were called to the stand said “was rehearsed”.

Olsen said that Williams’s instruction of “move that bloody car” was a fundamental mistake on his part; the officers would be “singularly unimpressed with that show of arrogance”.

The judge ruled that Williams is ­entitled to an award of costs to date, however, the matter will return to court to decide on the amount.

• kailene.pillay@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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