Race a factor in white cop's wrongful arrest - court

2015-12-08 09:51


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Pietermaritzburg - A high court judge has found that race was at the centre of the wrongful arrest and assault of a white South African Police Service captain by a black Pietermaritzburg crime prevention unit.

On Monday, Judge Peter Olsen ordered the Minister of Police to pay damages. The amount is yet to be decided.

"The plaintiff is a white male... the third defendant is a black Zulu. As will be seen, race unfortunately features in this case," said the judge.

Crime Intelligence unit Captain Paul Andrew Williams was arrested by the Pietermaritzburg unit in September 2011. He was arrested on charges of drunken driving and crimen injuria.

The judge said that although subjected to an alcohol test at a hospital, no evidence of drunkenness was put before the court and Williams was not charged.

‘Move the bloody car’

Williams told the court that he was arrested while driving home. The street was blocked and he could not drive around police vehicles.

Policemen were standing around and Williams asked them to move a kombi, but they ignored him.

Then reacting automatically, he shouted out: "Move the bloody car!"

His car door was flung open, he was hauled out while another man in the passenger seat shovelled him out.

Williams was wearing a T-shirt, shorts and flip flops.

He was grabbed around the neck.

'I don't care who you are'

During the fracas he shouted that he was a policeman from crime intelligence but someone shouted: "I don't care who you are."

With hands cuffed behind his back he was hustled to the van.

He was told to get into the back of the bakkie, but it was too high to step up.  He felt a hard shove in his back which flung him into the van.  His head struck something, and lying face down as the van was driven off.

All he could say was that it felt like a long time. It must have been because he was only extracted from the van about a quarter to midnight at a hospital.

After the medical examination, his hands were again cuffed behind his back and he was again thrust into the back of the van. On the way to a police station, the van was driven fast and then slow and fast over humps and rough stretches.

He suffered excruciating pain and when his body was being thrown about he would land firmly on his handcuffed hands.

At the police station he was placed in a holding cell. He managed to contact a colleague and he was released at about 04:00.

Williams did not wash or change until he was examined by a doctor who recorded multiple abrasions and bruises, and circumferential abrasions on his wrists.

Three policemen testified for the defence but Olsen said it was difficult to avoid the conclusion that they were rehearsed. Williams, a captain for 15 years gave clear, lucid evidence.

Olsen said that the evidence led during the trial reflected poorly on the South African Police Service.

Read more on:    police  |  pietermaritzburg  |  crime

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