Singh laments ‘unlawful’ arrest

2008-05-05 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG magistrate Ashin Singh told the high court yesterday that his arrest and trial, during which he secured a permanent stay of prosecution, were the most embarrassing and humiliating experiences of his life.

He said that he was prosecuted because he had told investigators that the wrong people were arrested for the Ndabazitha massacre in Richmond in 1999.

At a press conference that led to wide coverage in the media it was announced that SANDF soldiers had been arrested.

However, he told investigators that the soldiers were not the culprits and they were acquitted.

He said he was charged as a cover-up by the investigators and he alleged that he was the victim of malicious lies.

He said initially he was granted legal aid, but it was later withdrawn and to pay his legal costs he had to borrow, bond his house, get help from his father and still owes his attorney money.

Singh is claiming R2,87 million from the minister of Justice — R2,5 million for general damages for contumelia (insult) and R370 000 for his defence.

He said that in February 2000, investigators wrongfully caused the law to be set in motion to unlawfully arrest him for eight offences.

He said the investigators had no probable cause for doing so, nor did they reasonably believe the information.

As a result, he was charged, his home and offices were unlawfully searched and he was prosecuted.

The permanent stay of the prosecution was secured when the court found that the actions in bringing the prosecution were unlawful.

Opposing the action, counsel for the minister said that save for admitting that he was arrested and charged, the state acted in good faith, it had reasonable and probable cause for its actions and had a reasonable belief in the truth of the information on which the charges were based.

The state also denies that it was misconduct on the part of the investigators to charge Singh. The trial continues today. — OC.

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