Williams brother sues police

2019-09-11 14:11
Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS

Foto ter illustrasie....FOTO: ANDRE DAMONS (file)

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Pietermaritzburg man Derrick Williams, who has been involved in several brushes with the law to date, is alleging that he was wrongly arrested and had to spend a night in jail, for which he is suing police.

Williams, whose brother Ian was shot dead in a gun battle involving police in the Town Hill area in April 2016, is suing the minister of Police for R410 000, alleging he was unlawfully arrested in January that year and was detained for a night in the cells in Camperdown.

But police say that Williams was found in possession of a woman’s gold Genovoski brand Swiss watch, which had been suspected to be stolen along with other jewellery. Williams’ explanation is that the watch belonged to his brother and was given to him by his girlfriend.

“It seemed like a cheap watch, not real gold. It sparkled but I doubt it had real diamonds because his girlfriend is not employed in a position to buy an expensive watch,” said Williams.

He yesterday testified in his civil case about his “unlawful arrest”.

Williams told the court that on the day he was arrested he knew some of the officers present because they had arrested him in 2014 on suspicion of vehicle theft and in 2015 for housebreaking. Those charges were later withdrawn, he said.

Williams is claiming damages for the 2016 arrest — for severe psychological trauma and emotional distress, depression, for his feelings being hurt and humiliation.

He also said he has to further endure adverse stigma, community judgment and ridicule.

He said that on January 18, 2016 at about 10.30 pm, he was driving to Durban in a VW Gold Polo, which was rented by his brother.

His girlfriend and her friend were in another vehicle in front of him.

“As I approached the Hammarsdale off-ramp, I noticed my girlfriend slowing down. I looked by my side and noticed a person pointing a firearm at me,” he said.

At first he could not see who the person was and then realised it was a police officer.

“The way he was pointing the firearm at me made me realise that I must stop,” he said.

He added that he pulled off the road.

Williams said that after he stopped, two police officers commanded him to get out of his vehicle. When he did, he realised they had arrested him previously.

Other officers also came to him.

Williams said he was asked where he was heading. When an officer tried to take a photograph of him, he questioned him. Another officer intervened and told him he was asking too many questions. This officer struck him across the face and called him the k-word. He also told him that if he did not keep quiet, he would shoot him. Williams added that another officer told him that they suspected there were stolen goods in the vehicle, which was why they stopped him.

The vehicle was searched and only a watch was found near the gear lever. He was also searched and his money and cellphone were taken from him, he said.

Another policeman read out his car licence number on the police radio.

Williams said he was taken to the Camperdown police station and stayed in a police cell until the next day when he was told he could go home. He said he did not appear in court.

Asked by his advocate, Beatrice de Beer, if he was told why he was arrested and if his rights were explained to him, he said no. However, he said that when he asked the person taking his fingerprints at the station why he is being arrested, she said it was suspected the watch found in his car was stolen.

Questioned by advocate Humphrey Ngcobo, for the state, Williams insisted the watch was a man’s watch. Asked why his brother did not go and claim the watch back, he said that the police had explained they wanted to investigate the watch.

He said his brother died in April 2016.

Judge Piet Bezuidenhout has reserved judgment on whether to hold the minister of Police liable to pay damages.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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