Johannesburg - A Joburg man, who was brutally assaulted and arrested after being mistaken for his twin brother, is suing the Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa for R1.9 million in damages.
Shane Smith, 32, of Eden Park in Alberton is demanding that the police pay for his harrowing ordeal on March 11, 2011, when police officers from Vanderbijlpark, dressed in civilian clothing, stormed his brother’s house and beat him in front of his 8-year-old son.
This week Judge Sulet Potterill of the North Gauteng High Court ruled that Smith was entitled to recover 100 percent of his proven or agreed damages from the minister.
The receiving clerk is claiming for past and future medical, psychiatric, psychological and related treatment, past and future loss of earnings/earning capacity and general damages for pain and suffering, loss of amenities of life and trauma.
On Friday Shane related how police officers beat him on the head with their torches, handcuffed him and led him away as he bled profusely.
“They didn’t have a warrant of arrest. They just asked me where the stolen goods were,” said Shane, who has since stopped working because of his injuries.
He tried to persuade the police that they had the wrong man but they insisted he was lying.
“I showed them my driver’s licence but they wouldn’t budge. My girlfriend showed them my ID and they still said I was lying. They told me they didn’t take bribes and that they would lock me up.”
The Saturday Star understands that the police had been acting on a tip-off regarding stolen paraphernalia at the home of his brother, Wayne Smith.
But Wayne had travelled to Bela Bela with his wife to celebrate their wedding anniversary.
Later that evening Wayne received a phone call from the police saying they were “coming” for him.
“They asked me where I was and I told them I was in Bela Bela. They said they had seen me at a garage. But I told them I wasn’t there.”
He returned early and went to the police station to clarify the matter but the police refused to release Shane from the Barrage police station. They later moved him to Leeuhof Prison in Vereeniging, where he was jailed for a month.
His case was remanded twice and charges were later withdrawn.
Shane’s attorney Jean-Paul Rudd said his client now suffered from typical symptoms of a severe, chronic, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Acting police ministry spokesman David Barritt said: “A court has made a decision that Mr Smith’s case has merit and the next step is for Mr Smith to prove that what he is claiming is fair.”