News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
16 Mar 2018
6:00 am

Go ahead and sue the cops, court tells mother

Ilse de Lange

The Limpopo mother wants R8.5 million in damages for spinal cord injuries her infant son sustained when he was thrown into a police van.

A Limpopo mother whose son sustained serious head and spinal cord injuries when a policeman allegedly threw him into the back of a police van while arresting her, may continue with her R8.5 million damages claim against the police minister.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ruled that Sylvia Lewele, 34, of the Fa-Danie village in Limpopo, may proceed with her claim, despite not giving notice of her claim to the police within the legally prescribed six month-period.

Members of the police arrested Lewele at her house in October 2012 on charges of assault and crimen injuria. She alleged in court papers that Limpopo Constable Godfrey Hlongwane had assaulted and thrown her into the back of the police van. He then allegedly threw her 11-month-old son, Blessing, into the back of the van, despite her pleas for time to take him to her mother, who lived nearby.

She said Blessing, who is now five, fell on his side and sustained injuries to the left side of his head, arm, leg and spinal cord. She alleged the incident took place in full view of her neighbours and that she and her son were kept in the back of the van for almost the whole day in hot weather, while Hlongwane drove around with them.

She opened a case against the constable, but said she believed he was still a member of the police.

Lewele insisted her son was in good health at the time, but now suffered from paralysis and weakness on the left side of his body.

She said there was no reason for the police to throw her son into the police van as he could have been left in her mother’s care.

Lewele said it had always been her intention to take action for her son’s injuries, but did not know what to do to and also did not have money for an attorney.

She eventually only went to consult with her attorney, MH Malepe, in June 2014 and only then realised that she should already have given notice of her intention to sue the police in April 2013.

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