Cape Town - Navy corporal Phila Mnyanda has lost his hate speech case against a policewoman he accused of using the k-word in arresting him for drunk driving.
Judge Elizabeth Baartman dismissed his claim that Sergeant Zelda Bussey had used the k-word and, after putting him in the back of a police van, intentionally drove in a way that he was flung about and injured.
She said Mnyanda’s recollection of some of the events of August 23, 2011 was “poor”.
Mnyanda, who works as a chef for the navy, had taken the hate speech case to the Equality Court two years after Bussey and her partner Patrick Lottering had arrested him for driving under the influence of alcohol.
He had claimed that as Lottering was arresting an “objectionable” Mnyanda, Bussey had told her partner: “Die k***** dink hy is slim. Ek sal hom uitsort. (This k***** thinks he’s smart. I’ll sort him out).”
Mnyanda injured his shins while at the back of a vehicle which he claimed was a way of Bussey “sorting him out” by driving recklessly. Bussey had denied all allegations although she admitted that Mnyanda did sustain injuries due to her driving.
In her ruling on Wednesday Judge Baartman accepted versions presented by Bussey and Lottering. She said Mnyanda could not recollect parts of the events, including “a significant time” spent at the Cape Town Central Police Station where he and his vehicle were booked shortly after his arrest.
Judge Baartman said Mnyanda’s state of intoxication – four times the legal limit of 0.05g per 100ml – had affected his memory.
“The complainant alleged that he complied with Lottering’s instructions. This is contrary to the respondent who said that he was loud and objectionable. It follows that on the complainant’s (Mnyanda) version, there would have been no reason for the respondent to say ‘…hy hou hom slim’,” Judge Baartman said.
She said Lottering had made the arrest without consulting Bussey, which is contrary to Mnyanda’s claim that he had been detained on instructions from the more senior officer.
“I cannot find that the complainant’s version is nevertheless true and that of the respondent is false. I cannot ignore the complainant’s level of intoxication or his poor recollection of the discussion between him and Lottering prior to his arrest.”
Mnyanda’s attorney, Barry Varkel, said Mnyanda did not have money to appeal the ruling. “It is an unfortunate set of circumstances where an inexperienced single witness and former accused is found to be less credible than two corroborating seasoned police officer witnesses.
“Police brutality exists in SA whether SAPS likes to admit or not. Unfortunately Phila’s drunken state at the time of the incident militated against his version being accepted by the Court. Phila will have to move on with his life and put this incident behind him,” Varkel said.