A Limpopo traffic officer who was arrested after swearing at a police brigadier and preventing him from addressing an angry crowd has lost his R1 million damages claim against the police minister.
Magic Maila, a traffic officer of Mogaladi Village in Limpopo, sued the police after he was arrested during a community meeting in his village in February 2011 and detained for three days before all charges were withdrawn against him.
Members of the community were up in arms that day after the body of a child was found in the veld. They refused to allow police to do house to house searches. They suspected foreigners could have been responsible for the child’s death and blocked roads with trees and branches.
Maila, who was the only traffic officer in the area, insisted he wanted to speak to the community that day because they had searched his homestead, from where his mother operated a tavern, several times.
He suspected the community had consulted with a witch doctor, who said the incident had taken placed at a tavern, and his intention was to get the names of the leaders so that the matter could be escalated to the police.
He insisted he was not angry but was dissatisfied and had not interfered with the police doing their job, although he admitted he first wanted to talk to the community before the police addressed them.
Cluster commander Brigadier Daniel Moenyane, who was called in to calm down the situation that day, testified that Maila was making an already tense situation worse.
He testified that community members were demanding that the police help flush out all foreigners and he was about to address the meeting when Maila, who appeared to be drunk, started uttering vulgar words and alleged the police and community had searched his home without a search warrant.
Moenyane said he tried to calm down Maila, but he wouldn’t listen, continued swearing and wouldn’t give him a chance to complete what he was doing. After reprimanding Maila for a third time, he ordered his arrest.
Judge Louw ruled that Maila’s arrest had been lawful and dismissed his claim with costs.