News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
5 Sep 2017
6:15 am

R60k in damages for false-arrest victim

Ilse de Lange

She was accused of being in possession of a stolen car and remained in the police cells for three days.

Photo: Supplied

A 34-year-old old Pretoria woman who went to the police to report an assault on her, but was instead falsely arrested for the alleged possession of a stolen car, is to receive R60 000 in damages.

In terms of a settlement reached in the High Court in Pretoria, the police minister agreed to pay the amount to Thembi Buthelezi of Sunnyside to settle her claim for damages.

Buthelezi initially instituted a damages claim of R300 000 against the minister after an incident in March 2012, when she was arrested without cause and kept in custody for three days at the Soshanguve police station.

Buthelezi went to the police station to lay a formal assault charge against a friend who had assaulted her.

While she was in the process of laying the charge, her friend entered the charge office and informed the police that she was in possession of a stolen car.

Members of the police then without further ado and without ascertaining if the information was correct, arrested her on a charge of being in possession of a stolen vehicle.

She remained in the police cells for three days before being taken to the Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court, where officials declined to place the matter on the court roll because of a lack of evidence against her.

She was later informed that a certain police officer had made statements stating that she had been found in the passenger seat of the vehicle and that they had immediately assumed she was in possession of the vehicle.

Buthelezi maintained it was clear that even on that version, there were no reasonable grounds to assume she was in possession of or in control of a stolen vehicle and was at most an innocent bystander.

The police initially in court papers denied that Buthelezi had ever been arrested and denied any knowledge of her threeday detention.

She claimed damages not only for being deprived of her freedom, but also for her shock, suffering and discomfort and the damage to her good name, dignity and reputation. –