Cape Town - The case against a 27-year-old man who was shackled to a rail for alleged fraud at a Shoprite store has been thrown out of court.
Langton Nyathi was cuffed at Shoprite in the Golden Acre on Tuesday after he bought a cup for R5.
He took the cup, then noticed it did not have a lid, and went back to the display and got a lid. He was leaving the store when a guard stopped him.
On Thursday, Nyathi told the Cape Argus he walked through the Golden Acre daily when he travelled to work by train.
“I was with a friend and we went to buy bread and teabags. When I got to the till I saw a cup that cost R5. I looked for the lid and when I couldn’t find it went to search for one at another row of cups.”
Nyathi, a father of one from Philippi, said he found a lid from another cup and placed it inside his basket with the teabags and bread.
“I took it to the till and paid for it.”
As he stepped away from the till a security guard called him over.
“I walked with him… he started scratching in my bag.
“He asked me why the cup’s price was reduced, and then added it was because it came without a lid.”
The security guard told him to follow him to the store’s offices, where he manacled him to a rail.
“He said he was going to lock me up. I wanted to talk to his manager but he didn’t listen.”
John Joseph Spargo, his employer, was notified.
“I received a call from Nyathi’s friend and immediately went to the store.
“They first refused to tell me where he was. When I finally got to him I told security that it’s a violation of his rights to be shackled to a rail. But they refused to unshackle him.”
Spargo said he spoke to the store’s management and explained the situation, but no one would listen.
After being shackled for two hours, Nyathi was arrested by the police.
“He was locked up for 36 hours and I couldn’t even talk to him,” Spargo said. “I got my lawyer to talk to him at the police station.”
He said that when Nyathi and his lawyer arrived at court on Thursday morning the public prosecutor threw the case out of court.
“Shoprite has driven a horse and cart over this man’s human rights.”
In a comment sent to the Cape Argus two days ago when the story broke, Shoprite said: “We empathise with the position Mr Nyathi is finding himself in, but we are unfortunately not in a position to intervene or comment on matters pending court appearances.”