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Pretoria - A Cullinan man is set to receive R224 000 in damages from the police after he was arrested for no reason at the Beit Bridge border post and kept in a shipping container in Musina for nearly a week in dire circumstances.
Clifford Victor Cope initially claimed R540 000 from the police in the Pretoria High Court.
At the time of his arrest in June 2010, Cope conducted certain business dealings on behalf of his employer in Zimbabwe.
On his return from Zimbabwe on June 12, 2010, he was arrested at the border post by a policeman known only as Mamabula.
He was detained for about three hours at the border post, before he was taken, while cuffed, to the police station in Musina.
Cope said he was locked in the container, which was used as a holding cell, up to June 18, when he was let out on a warning following the intervention of his lawyer. He was told to appear in the Cullinan Magistrate’s Court a few days later.
Cope said he still had no idea what the charges against him were.
When he appeared in court on June 25, 2010, there was no “sign of any charge or any court documents relating to him”.
The prosecutor, who also did not know why he was there, told him that he could go home. That was the end of any possible criminal proceedings, said Cope.
He stated that being held in the container for nearly a week was harrowing.
The container was tiny and cramped, with only a few slits that allowed in some air, he said.
“There was at all times about 26 of us held in the container. Our movement was extremely restricted.
“The container was so full of people that at night all the detainees had to sleep squeezed next to each other. We all had to simultaneously turn on our sides, following an announcement by one of the detainees that it was time to turn. This was to ensure that we did not land on top of each other.”
Cope said he initially had nothing between him and the hard floor of the container, but on the third day he was given a hard mat to sleep on.
He had no pillow during the entire time and the detainees were made to share blankets, as there were not enough.
There was only one shower and one toilet inside the container, but no toilet paper. Cope said the stench was terrible.
They also had to share one tap with dirty water.
Cope claimed damages for being deprived of his liberty for nearly a week, unlawful arrest and the humiliation he had to endure.
The police, in denying liability, admitted that Cope was arrested, but said it was a legal arrest. It was, however, not stated on what charge he was arrested.