Suicide: Police sued

2020-02-19 14:15
Depression is often misunderstood in African communities.

Depression is often misunderstood in African communities.

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A Newcastle woman is claiming R6,5 million in damages from the minister of Police for herself and three children following the death of her husband, who committed suicide.

The man was sexually assaulted on October 23, 2015 while in custody.

The incident set off a chain reaction of thoughts and feelings that eventually ended with him committing suicide two years later in the same month.

He hanged himself from the burglar guard of a bedroom window.

The matter came before the Pietermaritzburg high court on Tuesday and was adjourned.

The man is not being named because he was sexually assaulted, and for the protection of his wife and young children.

Court papers said that the man, who died at 43 years old, was arrested near Shoprite Checkers in Newcastle on a charge of shoplifting. He was taken to the police station where he was incarcerated along with seven other men.

In the early hours of the next morning, the man was attacked and assaulted by Xolani Khonjelwayo, who slapped him and grabbed him by the throat. Khonjelwayo asked him for cigarettes and then grabbed and punched his private parts.

Khonjelwayo instructed the rest of the jailbirds to assault the man and they did.

Khonjelwayo then forcibly removed the man’s pants and sexually assaulted him. The man screamed but no one came to assist him, said the court papers.

Later in the morning he informed police officers on duty what had happened and opened a charge of sexual assault against Khonjelwayo, who later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.

The claim said that the minister’s employees should and could have ensured that no harm came to the man while he was in the police cells. They should have conducted regular cell inspections, which would have prevented the attack from happening.

Also, the employees should have come to the man’s aid while he was being attacked and when he screamed.

As a result of the employees’ negligence, the man suffered major depressive disorder, anxiety attacks and recurrent post-traumatic stress disorder, said the claim.

In addition, he suffered from severe depression with persistent suicidal ideations.

He also became emotional whenever he recalled the incident, had nightmares and alienated himself from his family. He moved out of the bedroom he shared with his wife. He also used alcohol as a coping mechanism and was constantly hospitalised, added the claim.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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