PMB man to sue minister, police

2008-05-20 00:00

A Pietermaritzburg resident, Sheldon Hattingh, is to sue the minister of Safety and Security as well as local policeman, Willem Rudolph Swart and estate agent Deon Jonck, for amounts totalling R400 000.

The matter, which is being opposed, is due to go to trial in the high court on June 18.

According to papers lodged with the high court in Pietermaritzburg, Hattingh alleges he was arrested without a warrant — on an allegedly false charge said to have been laid by Jonck — at his Lincoln Meade residence in full view of family and members of the public on the night of March 1, 2005.

After his arrest he was allegedly detained at the Loop Street police cells at the insistence of Swart and other policemen from the dog unit, and was held by police for more than 48 hours before being taken to the magistrate’s court on March 4, where all charges against him were withdrawn.

He is claiming damages of R200 000 jointly and severally from the minister and Swart for impairment of dignity, shock and deprivation of personal liberty. He is also suing Jonck for an amount of R200 000 in damages.

He alleges Jonck “wrongfully and maliciously” set the law in motion by laying a false charge of theft against him (Hattingh) with the SAPS at Alexandra Road police station. When laying the charge, Hattingh alleges that Jonck gave police false information that he (Hattingh) had stolen money from him “well knowing that it was a civil dispute between them emanating from a contract”.

The court papers allege that when Jonck gave the information he had no probable cause for doing so, nor did he have any reasonable belief in the truth of the information.

In replying papers the minister and the police claim that Hattingh was lawfully arrested and that he was taken to court “as soon as it was reasonably possible”.

They deny all other allegations.

According to papers filed on behalf of Jonck, the estate agent laid a charge of theft under false pretences (against Hattingh) and “stands by such charges”.

“Further, at the time of the plaintiff’s (Hattingh’s) arrest, at least two counts of fraud and one of theft were already levelled against the plaintiff by other individuals,” Jonck alleges.

Jonck denies the allegations made against him by Hattingh, and further denies that the charges against Hattingh were withdrawn at his instance or that Hattingh suffered damages of “any sum whatsoever” arising from his (Jonck’s) conduct.

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