A self-appointed car guard in the Pretoria city centre must be compensated for his unlawful arrest and detention four years ago, a judge in the high court in the city has ruled.
Sello Lebelo, also known as “Ghost”, instituted a damages claim against the minister of police after he was arrested without a warrant in May 2013 for allegedly stealing a laptop computer from the boot of a car.
He was kept in custody for over three months before the charges were withdrawn.
His arrest followed an incident on the corner of Church and Madiba streets near the High Court in Pretoria – someone opened the boot of a car after possibly using a gate remote control to jam the car’s signal and stole a laptop.
The complainant informed a police constable on the street corner that her laptop had been stolen from her car and then reported it at the central police station.
In her statement, she said that two car guards had told her that a man known as Jazzman, who was in the company of a man named Molefe Botha, had opened the boot of her car and stolen her laptop.
The constable said an informer had told him the crime had been committed by a man named Ghost.
He later took a statement from the two car guards who allegedly saw the theft.
They said they had seen Jazzman opening the boot and taking the laptop and Botha, then accompanying him, did not mention a remote control.
The constable was at the police cells at the police station a few days later when he saw one of the car guards, who pointed out Lebelo as one of the people who stole the laptop by jamming the car signal.
The police officer then arrested Lebelo, who only appeared in court two days later and remained in custody until the case was withdrawn in September 2013.
Judge Pierre Rabie found that the statements about the incident were so contradictory and inadequate it could not even remotely be said that another person, apart from Jazzman, had been involved in the theft and even if there was a second person, that that person could have been Lebelo.