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Pretoria - A man from Musina, Limpopo, who says he was abducted by police on bogus charges at night, taken across the Zimbabwean border, assaulted and detained for up to three months before being released, and two of his friends who allegedly suffered much the same fate, are claiming more than R44 million in damages from the police.
Tshifhiwa Arnold Murema said in papers before the Pretoria High Court that he was arrested on a charge of robbery - an offence punishable by death in Zimbabwe. This added to his stress, he said, as this prospect hung over his head for the three months before he was released.
He said he was at home on November 25, 2010, when SAPS officers raided his home shortly before midnight. Murema said he was assaulted before being bundled into a vehicle and taken across the Zimbabwean border.
“I was never told the reason why I was being taken to Zimbabwe,” he said. He was kept at the Beitbridge police station on the Zimbabwean side where, he said, he was assaulted daily.
He was taken to the magistrate’s court a week later, where he was given a form that showed that he faced, among other allegations, a charge of robbery.
Murema was denied bail as he did not have a passport with him and he was detained at the Beitbridge remand prison in Zimbabwe.
He stated that the Zimbabwean police investigated the charges against him, but as he could not be linked to any of the crimes, he was released.
By the time the State withdrew charges against him, he had been in prison for three months.
Murema is claiming R13.5 million following this alleged ordeal.
Murema claimed a further R10m damages, stating that he had been arrested again at his home about a year later.
About 10 officers raided his home and, after undressing him, they pulled his trousers over his head and assaulted him for about 20 minutes, he alleged.
Dressed in only his underwear, he was again taken across the border to the charge office at Beitbridge. He said Zimbabwean police officers told the SAPS to leave him as he was not “on our wanted list”. He was put into the spare wheel compartment of a vehicle and driven across the border to Zimbabwe.
He was taken to an interrogation room, where he was assaulted and lost consciousness, he said. Cold water was poured on him to bring him round.
He was forced to take the police to the homes of two friends - Tshimangadzo Paulos Mbedzi and Jimmy Rasebu - where they were told to “point out the firearm”. The three of them were beaten and he was eventually dumped near his home.
The SAPS say they know nothing about the incidents and that the plaintiffs should be suing the Zimbabwean government.
The case was postponed to a date to be determined.