DJ compensated for wrongful jailing

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Independent Newspapers

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Pretoria - A former Bronkhorstspruit DJ who refused to accept a court’s rejection two years ago of his R1 million damages claim against the police for unlawful arrest and detention has won his battle.

On appeal, the Pretoria High Court found that the police should have investigated his claim that the blood on his clothes was due to him aiding a wounded man, and not causing the fatal injury. The high court last week awarded him R280 000 on appeal.

Braam Beukes, who now lives in Mookgophong, earlier testified in tears before the Pretoria High Court about his ordeal when he was arrested in September 2007 and locked up in a police cell for five days.

This was after the police mistook him for the killer of a patron at a nightclub where he worked. The truth was that he had actually tried to help the injured man who later died.

Beukes said he had no idea why he was arrested, as all he wanted to do was to help the man.

For five days, Beukes had to sleep on a dog blanket and a piece of foam in a filthy cell. He hardly slept, especially after hearing that one of his cellmates in the crowded cell was a rapist.

Beukes earlier testified that he was a disc jockey at Joejoe’s pub in Bronkhorstspruit on the night of the incident. There were about 120 patrons at the club and about 60 on the dance floor when the incident occurred. A young woman approached him and asked him to intervene in a fight between a man identified only as Diederichs and another man (the deceased). Beukes did not know the people.

He managed to pull Diederichs and the deceased apart. Later, the deceased man fell.

Beukes tried to break the fall and came to the man’s assistance. He realised the man was bleeding profusely. Beukes noticed that his hands were covered in blood and rushed to the bathroom to wash them because he feared HIV infection.

When he returned 10 minutes later, the patrons were gone and the deceased had been removed.

A warrant officer earlier told the court that a report came through that someone had died in hospital following a fight at Joejoe’s. When he got there, the premises were locked. One of his informants implicated Beukes.

He went back to the pub the next day and noticed that the blood had been wiped off the floor, but there were blood splatters on the wall.

Beukes was told to hand over the clothes he wore the previous evening, which had bloodstains on them. Beukes was arrested and tried, but was acquitted two years later.

Judge Jody Kollapen earlier, during Beukes’s damages claim, found there was a reasonable basis for anyone observing his participation around the deceased to suspect he was involved in the assault. The judge found that the police had reason to honestly suspect Beukes was involved and that his arrest, detention and prosecution were not unlawful.

But Judge Vivian Tlhapi, on appeal, gave Beukes the benefit of the doubt.

She said the police informer had mentioned only that Beukes was involved in the incident and not that it was him who assaulted the deceased.

Pretoria News


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