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Police must pay R260 000 in damages to a Pretoria East domestic worker who saw her son being shot dead and was herself shot after police were called to to defuse a “domestic violence” situation.
Johanna Sibanyoni, who lived in Tembisa with her son in November 2009 when he was shot dead, initially claimed R2.5 million from police.
Judge Joseph Raulinga ordered that she be awarded R180 000 after she suffered a bullet wound to the back and chest, and an extra R80 000 for being unlawfully detained by police for a day.
Sibanyoni stated in papers before the Pretoria High Court that she was humiliated and belittled by the police, who after shooting dead her son and wounding her, loaded her in the back of a police van while she was only wearing her undergarments.
Her pyjama top was taken away from her after she was shot and she had to climb into the van half-naked, she said.
“I was left with my breasts hanging out and the policemen and women were just watching me, but did nothing.”
Sibanyoni said although she was injured, she was not taken to hospital, but thrown into a cell.
“During the night several police officers kept on coming into my cell.
“I told them that I had been shot and had to be taken to hospital. They just ignored my pleas.”
Sibanyoni said the incident that night was sparked by the girlfriend of her son Themba. She came to visit them with her baby. She left the baby with them and vanished for several hours. When she came back, she could not explain where she had been and Themba told her to take her baby and leave.
The woman refused to leave and Themba packed her bags and put them on the kitchen floor. The woman left with her baby, leaving the luggage.
It emerged that she went to the police station as they later came knocking on the door of the house. Sibanyoni said she saw “a gun sticking through the space between the door and kitchen wall”.
The next moment three policemen came in and said they were accompanying the girlfriend to collect her belongings.
Sibanyoni said the police assaulted her son. A police officer wanted to take her son outside as he wanted to “show him who was boss”, but she intervened, she said.
The police took her son to the police van, but she tried to free him “from the clutches of a policeman who had a gun”.
“I heard a shot and looked up, thinking it was a warning shot. After the second shot I saw Themba falling down. As I went to check on him, I heard a third shot. I screamed and moved away and a policeman started throttling me. I pleaded with him to let me go and he hit me with the gun…”
Sibanyoni said as she was thrown into the police van, she looked back and saw her son was wrapped in silver sheeting. She realised he was dead.
The police denied any wrongdoing. According to them a struggle ensued with Themba and he tried to grab an officer’s gun. “In the midst of the struggle shots went off,” they said.
But Judge Raulinga found the woman’s version to be more plausible.