Police liable for dad's suffering

2012-10-13 14:43

Pretoria - The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted an order for the police minister to compensate a Pretoria father for his anguish after failing to inform him of the discovery of his son's body for almost five years after he was reported missing.

In terms of a settlement, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa accepted liability for the damages suffered by 52-year-old Roelof van der Merwe of Faerie Glen.

A civil trial would commence at a later stage to determine the amount of damages Van der Merwe would receive from the police.

Van der Merwe was claiming R800 000 for his mental anguish, emotional trauma and the costs of trying to find his son.

In court papers, he said he went to report missing his 23-year-old son Andries, two days after he disappeared from his last known address in Alberton North on 27 April 2005.

He was told it was too early to report his son as missing, but when his son still did not turn up, he once again reported him missing and was given a reference number.

He used the reference number when he made his enquiries with the police, but was each time told no information was available.

Van der Merwe was only informed in December 2009 that his son's body had been found in Sunnyside on 29 April 2005, two days after he went missing, and that an investigation had been opened into his death.

Reference number 'didn't exist'

The Sunnyside police also informed him the reference number for the missing persons' report he had been using did not exist and had no bearing on the report he had lodged.

Van der Merwe said the uncertainty linked to his son's disappearance had caused him substantial pain, suffering and emotional trauma and resulted in him having to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment for depression and post-traumatic stress.

He claimed the police had been negligent by making no effort to find out if his son had been reported missing after his body was found.

He claimed damages for his past and future psychiatric treatment and psychological counselling.

Van der Merwe was also suing the State for the money he spent on travel, telephone calls and private investigators in an attempt to find his son.

The police minister was also ordered to pay Van der Merwe's legal costs.

  • hannah.p.mostert - 2012-10-13 14:53

    Wow poor man, all that time not knowing

      andrez.kolesky - 2012-10-13 15:41

      "Wow poor man" indeed. The hoping, self loathing, wondering and the list can go on, and on.....

      Jo.Davies123 - 2012-10-14 01:37

      I don't konw wht would be worse - knowing your child was dead, or keeping the hope that he was alive. This poor family. My heart goes out to you all

  • firmsly.kabelo - 2012-10-13 15:09

    I hope that after all this ordeal you may find the closure you deserve Mr Van Der Merwe. May you find refuge in God.

  • beverly.young3 - 2012-10-13 15:15

    OMG!!!!word cannot describe the anguish this poor man has suffered. I know there might be sarcastic remarks from some poeple,re his financial claims, and yes, its a terrible situiation, but NOTHING can be as bad as losing a child..his 'lashing' out is acceptable. The police are entirely to blame. Poor, poor man.

      Erna - 2012-10-13 18:03

      No amount of money can make it better. However, by opening this case it once again exposes the hopeless inefiency of the SAPS!

      cherry.tcmr - 2012-10-13 18:06

      Bev. There's is absolutely nothing worse than not knnowing where your child is. Thats the consolotion I gave myself when my son died. It would have been worse if I didn't know where he was. I too ended up in psychiatric institions and spent an enormous amount of money on medication and psychotherapy. Sorry for your loss Mr Van Der Merve.

      glors.phuti - 2012-10-13 20:38

      Mr van der merwe what is R800 000.please.if I was u I will claim the same amount as Zuma 's palace so that when u go to the police shop they won't judge u rather listenin to your problem cos it is their duty.!!that is why I said we Don't have policemen in south sa frica!!we got co-r-pse.

      beverly.young3 - 2012-10-13 20:44

      @ cherry.txcmr my dear lady, my thoughts and love are with you.

  • shirley.steenkamp - 2012-10-13 15:21

    Seriously,people-after putting a person through all that,surely the investigating officer shoud AT LEAST be fired??? My condolences to you Sir. God help South Africa...coruption,clueless police,defence force filled eith fake medals,ongoing strikes,poor education,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc,etc............................!

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-10-13 15:23

    The mischief ,animosity and division that the police cause in families under the guise of 'whatever' is vile.God only knows where they asstme to have the crediantials to intervene in family matters!

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-10-13 15:24

    The mischief ,animosity and division that the police cause in families under the guise of 'whatever' is vile.God only knows where they assume to have the credentials to intervene in family matters!

  • mshiniboys - 2012-10-13 15:39

    That is your police right there....I also reported a case at the police station and given a reference number.but i was later arrested for the same case by the criminal who had commited the crime...who had committed the crime to frame me.I was told the number meant nothing on their system.i have zero respect for the police and their friends if you ask me.

  • terrylee.heuer - 2012-10-13 15:49

    Simple they DON'T CARE!!! Taxpayer will pay Nati and those incompetent policemen should pay out of their own pockets its too easy no one gets fired just moved from one dept to another and the incompetence carries on!!!! Feel soo sorry for this Dad to have to go through this you deserve every cent!!!!

  • George - 2012-10-13 16:56

    He is not the only one to have suffered due to the incompetence of the police. This will set a precedent. I can see the whole budget being spent compensating our poor citizens for not receiving the service due to them. Of course its taxpayer money, so who cares? The Minister should be held criminally liable or be sued in his personal capacity. Then, I suspect the services in SA will quickly improve!

  • Michelle Mimi van Zyl - 2012-10-13 17:39

    This is terrifying!! My condolences to mr van der Merwe and his family! I really am doubting the justice system at the moment. Day in and day out people get raped, murder and killed and all we have are reference numbers and in his case this number didnt even exist, wake up SAPD, your not a call centre, this is human lives we are talking about not expired bread. Heartbreaking!!!

  • nicolene.lephuthing - 2012-10-13 20:19

    This is so sad cos whatever amount he's getting nothing will compare 2 the pain he endured all those years this is painful just imagine looking 4 a dead child all those years this guy should had closure long ago but those police didn't care about that I hope he gets well nd everything goes well

  • fort.horseman.7 - 2012-10-13 20:51

    Im have gone many times to the authorities,independent this and independent that to complain about police atrocities,they bury their heads in the sand,and think the problem will go away.Then you become the 'enemy of the state',because the mentality is 'who are you to 'challenge' us?we are the 'law'!

      fort.horseman.7 - 2012-10-13 21:06

      Now how can 1 respect the law when those who are imposing it dont respect it themselves.How can 1 respect an institution that commands respect through fear,harassment,abuse of power,and corruption?And what integrity is it displaying when it targets those who point it out?'All for 1 and 1 for all,doesnt sound like a Police Service but more like a mafia organisation.

  • dehlia.fredericks - 2012-10-13 21:32

    incompetent, incompetent, stupidity, dum, dummer, dummest! incompetent.....but the best person 4 the job, joke!

  • lskosana3 - 2012-10-13 21:33

    Oh but the ROT in anything that's got to do with government!! Like what the hell!!!

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