Falsely arrested twin wants R4.9m from police minister

2015-05-21 17:37
Nkosinathi Nhleko (GCIS)

Nkosinathi Nhleko (GCIS)

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Johannesburg - A man who spent nearly a month in jail after being mistaken for his twin brother wants R4.9m in damages from Police Minister Nkosonathi Nhleko.

Shane Smith, 32, was arrested in Vanderbijlpark, south of Johannesburg, on March 11 2011, while house-sitting for his twin.

"My brother asked me to look after his house for the weekend," Smith told News24 on Thursday.

"On that Friday night, as I was pulling out of the driveway, the police who were looking for my brother came. I thought at the time that I was being hijacked.

"They got me out of the car and arrested me. I kept on telling them that I was only looking after the house. I even showed them my driver's licence to show that I am not my brother, but they assaulted me. We don't even look the same."

He said it happened in front of his son, who was around 9-years-old at the time.

Smith appeared in court that Monday on a charge of possession of stolen property and was kept in custody.

"I was told later that if the police found my brother they would let me go."

He then spent 29 days in Leeuhof prison, near Vereeniging.

"The prison was the worst part, it was worse than the assault," he said.

He said his brother handed himself in, and the charges against both men were dropped.

"Someone else was eventually arrested for those charges."

Smith said he had a "hard time" after being released.

"At first, I wasn't speaking to anyone. I was getting very bad headaches. Doctors told me to go to psychiatrists and I also went for an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] scan.

"My son was also scared of me for a while, because you know this all happened in front of him. But, things are much better now."

Smith's lawyer Jean-Paul Rudd said they instituted summons against the minister three years ago and got no response. After several other applications were met with silence, they applied to strike out the minister's defence, which was granted.

Before the matter was supposed to be heard in court on Monday, the minister applied for a postponement and to have the order to strike out his defence rescinded.

The matter would be heard early next year.

"The minister has accepted that he is liable," Rudd said.

Smith and his team are claiming R4 961 190.73 in damages.

When approached for comment, police ministry spokesperson Musa Zondi said the matter was being handled by legal services.

Read more on:    police  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  prisons

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