‘I think heads should roll’

2015-10-06 10:30


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Pietermaritzburg attorney Surendra Singh, who won a damages action against police for malicious arrest, has called for “heads to roll”.

The amount of money Singh will be paid out by the state will be the subject of another court case which will only be heard next year.

Singh was arrested on two occasions — once in November 2010 and again in March 2011 — at his home, at night in full view of his wife, family and other members of the public who gathered at the scene.

He said in respect of each arrest he was held in a cell with several people “accused of serious crimes” even though other cells were empty.

He was also denied access to basic amenities such as drinking water, a proper bed and said the toilet was blocked and “full of faeces”.

Singh said the treatment he was subjected to caused him humiliation, stress and trauma and resulted in his suffering from post traumatic stress disorder for which he is receiving treatment.

He said what happened to him was a “serious impairment” of his right to freedom under the Constitution.

He sued the Minister of Safety and Security and individual policemen from Loop Street police station for R300 000 damages in the first instance, and R350 000 in connection with the second unlawful arrest.

The policemen named in connection with the first arrest were Warrant Officers Jude Dorasamy and Rajeev Soorajbally.

Both these policemen, as well as Captain Nagesh Nundlall, Warrant Officer Adimoolam, Detective Amith Budhram and Colonel Sam Naidoo, were involved on the second occasion when Singh was arrested on March 17, 2011.

After initially opposing the claim, the state yesterday admitted liability in the matter and agreed to pay Singh whatever damages he is able to prove.

Judge Shyam Gyanda ordered that both the law suits be joined for the purposes of deciding the amount payable.

Singh yesterday told The Witness the case was “not just about the money” for him. “It is about justice and my dignity and reputation. If ever there was horrific abuse, then this was it,” he said.

Singh said it took him five years to get the police to admit liability in the case and said to date he believes no disciplinary steps have been taken against the policemen involved.

“I think heads should roll … It’s time they face the book,” he said.

In court papers Singh alleged Dorasamy and Soorajbally had “hurled abuse” at him in view of other detainees and police members at Loop Street for “no apparent reason”.

He alleged that when he was arrested in March 2011, allegedly at the behest of Colonel Naidoo, he had been denied sleep and was kept handcuffed to the grills until around 4 am.

The police wanted to transfer him to Plessislaer or Howick but he refused to go even if they “killed” him. He said when he was transferred to Mountain Rise, Dorasamy and Soorajbally had asked an unidentified policeman at Mountain Rise to transfer him from cell to cell and give him a “difficult time”.

Singh told The Witness the first time he was arrested on November 25, 2010, was in connection with an allegation that he had assaulted two policemen, Captain Mario Williams and Sergeant Vinesh Harripersadh (of the dog unit).

In actual fact, he said, he had also laid charges against the men who were tenants in a building he owned and were “drunk” at the time. “What I did was defend myself. Williams had a gun and I pepper-sprayed him,” said Singh.

He said he was tried in court, found not guilty and discharged at the end of the state’s case.

He alleged the second arrest was made under a “false warrant of arrest”.

He was charged for allegedly intimidating a witness in a case, but told The Witness that the person he was charged with intimidating “knows absolutely nothing about it and never made a statement to that effect”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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