Man stuck with R98 000 hospital bill after police shooting

Cape Town – A Cape Town man owes Groote Schuur Hospital more than R98 000 for the care he received after a police officer shot him in error in 2005.

Mohsan Ameen lost his kidney and has never received compensation, or an explanation from the police. No investigation has been completed, according to GroundUp.

Mohsan Ameen faces a hospital bill of more than R9
Mohsan Ameen, who lost a kidney after a police shooting in 2005, faces a hospital bill of more than R98 000. (Photo: Tariro Washinyira)

The immigrant from Pakistan says he was driving with friends from Bellville on a Wednesday night in February 2005. "When we reached the R300 on our way to Mitchells Plain, a police officer stopped our car."

A shot was fired. "The bullet came through the boot and smashed my kidney. When I touched my right side there was blood on my hand," Ameen says.

The police officers had mistaken them for robbers, he says. They searched the car and found nothing incriminating. An officer called an ambulance and Ameen was taken to Groote Schuur.

He was hospitalised from February 2 to May 14, 2005 running up an account of R98 000 which was handed over to debt collectors in 2007, says the hospital.

When he was discharged, he went to the Philippi East police station to lay a complaint. He found a Constable Gubela of SAPS Philippi East opened a case of attempted murder on his behalf in February 2005.

Not in the system

The last time Ameen went to Philippi East Police station, he was told his case was not in the system.

He has a document issued at the police station, according to which Gubela opened the case on February 27, 2005. Warrant Officer Gideon Westrat is specified as the investigating officer for case number 194/2/2005.

When GroundUp went to Philippi East police station with Ameen to contact Westrat, we were told a Lieutenant Colonel Mzimasi Dyani was working on the case. Dyani said Ameen should get a lawyer to contact the SAPS legal department, which would then give the lawyer the documentation needed to sue the minister of police.

Technically, said Chimoné Claassens, an attorney at Laubscher & Hattingh who is representing Ameen, the time period within which he could sue the minister had expired. Section 12 of the Prescription Act stipulates that court action for compensation has to be started within three years.

However, according to Claassens, recent case law shows the three-year period only begins when a person becomes aware of the fact that he or she has a claim.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate says they will not investigate a case prior to 2012.

Spokesperson Robbie Raburabu said that in 2005, the department did not investigate cases involving police shootings in which nobody died.

"We only started investigating discharges of official firearms since 1 April 2012," he said in an e-mail.

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