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Police ministry case goes to ConCourt

2011-08-03 22:32

Bloemfontein - The Constitutional Court will hear argument on Thursday on whether the minister of police can be held liable for the conduct of policemen who are on standby.

The matter relates to the damages suffered by a 13-year-old Western Cape girl, who was assaulted and raped in 1998 by a policeman while he was on standby.

The policeman, who was dressed in civilian clothing, used an unmarked police vehicle and visited a nightclub with two friends.

The girl was at the same nightclub and accepted a lift home with him after missing her ride.

He dropped off his friends then drove to a place in the vicinity of Kaaimans, near George.

The girl, who felt that something might be wrong, jumped out of the vehicle and returned to a nearby road in an attempt to get another lift.

However, the policeman pulled up alongside her and promised to take her home. She again accepted.

Shortly before reaching George, he turned off the road and after restraining her, he assaulted and raped her.

Legal obligations

She took the minister of police to court and the Western Cape High Court held that the minister was liable for the damages she suffered.

The high court's decision was taken to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which found in the minister's favour on the ground that the police officer was off-duty when he attacked the girl.

It also held that the legal obligations of an on-duty police officer did not extend to a police officer who was on standby or off-duty.

The woman, who is now 26-years-old, has turned to the Constitutional Court to decide whether the minister was vicariously liable for the wrongful actions of police officers on standby.

The Constitutional Court has previously decided that the minister would be vicariously liable for rape committed by on-duty police officers.

Earlier, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) indicated that it had been admitted as a friend of the court in the case.

The ISS said the continued employment of the police officer created a substantial risk that he would abuse his position in order to commit violent crime.

It said it would introduce evidence from the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), demonstrating the alarming increase in police violence in the 13 years prior to 2010.

Comments
  • ProudlyKgomo - 2011-08-03 22:54

    An employee on standby gets paid a lower hourly rate. So technically, standby is eaquals to on-duty!!

  • noitall - 2011-08-04 06:41

    13 year old in a night club? I don't for one minute say that it was in anyway her fault but we all aware of the situation in RSA and we let our daughters go to night clubs when they are 13. it is everyone's responsibility to limit the chances of this kind of thing happening. So parents - guilty, night club owner - guilty, Rapist - guilty, Com. of Police - not guilty for the rape, but guilty for not providing us with a safe place to live and gross negligence for not doing his job.

  • Badballie - 2011-08-04 10:20

    In terms of the Supreme court ruling a Police officer on stand by and off duty therefore do not have the power of arrest and detention and is to be considered a normal citizen with no powers other than those enjoyed by any other citizen. The Government can't have it both ways, so if the minister of police is not responsible for them while off duty they in turn do not have the power of law on their side during this time either

  • GBES - 2011-08-04 10:28

    If the Police has any MORAL sense, that disgusting policeman would have been fired !! Why is the criminal still in the police? He should get LIFE sentence for this violent attack,on an naive girl.Additionally her parents should also be locked up,for criminal negligence or failure to look after a kid.

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