Policeman to sue over ‘malicious’ court case

2009-11-27 00:00

HILTON-BASED police officer Superintendent Jan Venter will sue the minister of Justice for alleged malicious prosecution following his acquittal in the magistrate’s court yesterday on a charge of reckless and negligent driving, his attorney told The Witness.

Venter was granted a discharge at the close of the state case yesterday by magistrate B. Dehaloo, who commented that the “wrong person” was prosecuted in the matter and criticised the decision of the prosecuting authority for having brought the case to court.

He found there was no evidence presented by the state that required that Venter be placed on his defence, and no evidence that Venter was reckless or negligent.

The “consequences” of his braking action, which resulted in motorist Sifiso Chili having to take evasive action, were the result of Chili not keeping a safe following distance, the magistrate ruled.

Chili alleged in his evidence last week that he was travelling behind Venter up Town Hill on the N3 on the morning of October 2, 2007, when Venter “suddenly” put on brakes, causing his vehicle to “almost stop for no reason or emergency”. He said he only avoided a collision by braking hard and swerving sharply to the right.

It was suggested to him in cross-examination that he was driving dangerously close behind Venter.

Coetzee cited authority for the fact that motorists at the rear are expected to observe a safe following distance.

The Appellate Division ruled in 1982 that motorists who run into the back of a vehicle that unexpectedly stops at a green robot are to blame for the collision.

Coetzee told The Witness that he made written representations to the senior public prosecutor before Venter was brought to trial, pointing out the legal position. The charge against Venter was withdrawn on December 2, 2008, but was reinstated again in February this year.

“I can confirm that I have received instructions to now sue the minister of Justice for malicious prosecution,” he said.

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