The Pretoria High Court has ordered the police to pay damages of R45 000 to a Mpumalanga man who was hit by rubber bullets during a service delivery protest.
This comes as seven Free State policemen last week appeared in the Ficksburg Regional Court on charges of killing a protester by shooting him with rubber bullets.
Saul Msimango, who claimed R150 000 in damages from the Minister of Police, said in papers before the Pretoria High Court that he was not part of the protest in Standerton at the time. He had been seeking refuge at the Sakhile police station when he was shot by the police.
The police admitted their mistake and agreed to pay Msimango R45 000 in damages. The agreement was made an order of court by Pretoria Deputy Judge President Willem van der Merwe.
Msimango, 34, said in a statement that he was buying meat in town on October 25, 2009, when he heard shots. He ran to his car, but a bullet shattered his window.
Frightened, he drove to the closest police station to seek refuge. Outside he saw a lot of people and police officers. He drove into the station yard for safety, but an armoured police vehicle filled with heavily armed officerscame in.
The police told the crowd to leave the premises and suddenly started shooting at them. He was hit in the upper thigh by a rubber bullet.
Msimango jumped into his car, but three policemen told him to get out. As he did so, they shot at him again.
He got back in the car and tried to wind up his window, but a policeman blocked the window with his gun.
“He shot me three times through the window, hitting me in my shoulder, before I could drive away.”
Nobody came to his aid.
He needed medical treatment at the Standerton district hospital and was unable to work for a month.
Before settling the matter, the police denied the incident.
Msimango’s lawyer said he had been severely traumatised and was at first afraid to seek legal advice. He was also frightened of laying criminal charges against the police.
But his lawyer explained his rights to him. - Weekend Argus