A Doornfontein man who claims he was so badly assaulted by a group of policemen that he almost passed out has instituted a R450,000 damages claim against Police Minister Bheki Cele.
The damages claim by Jean-Paul Smith is only expected to proceed in the High Court in Pretoria next year. Smith claimed in court papers that he was at his home one morning in January this year when four SA Police Service members unlawfully arrested him in connection with an alleged business robbery, but was then forcefully and violently pushed to the ground, hit on the ribs, back and neck and was also kicked and trampled.
The 31-year-old alleged one of the officers also stood on him while others hit him with a baton, kicked him on the stomach and back and pointing guns at him. Smith said he sustained serious injuries to his ribs, back and face for which he needed medical treatment, was severely humiliated, suffered a loss of dignity and was severely traumatised.
He was detained for about 30 hours before he was taken to court and released on bail. Smith, who laid an assault charge against the policemen, said in a statement he did not resist his arrest because the policemen had a warrant for his arrest.
He said two of the policemen started assaulting him while they were driving to the Carletonville police station, using their elbows to hit him in the ribs and slapping him on his back, neck and face. Smith claimed one of them pulled out a firearm and pointed it at him when he tried to resist. When they reached the police station, the officers allegedly ordered him to sit on the ground and one of them stood on his legs while the other three assaulted him with a baton and kicked him in the stomach and back.
He alleged the policemen told him they were going to link him with all the housebreakings in Carletonville, western Gauteng, and only stopped assaulting him when other officers came into the office and told them to stop as he may pass out. The police denied that Smith was assaulted in any way and insisted he was lawfully arrested for the crimes of breaking and entering and theft in terms of an arrest warrant. Smith laid assault charges against the police but to no avail. The criminal charges against him are still pending.