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Pretoria - Repugnant Gestapo methods used by the police to extract information from people in these civilised times could not be tolerated, a Pretoria High Court judge said in awarding R220 000 in damages to the widow of the former Speaker of the Mpumalanga legislature, who was assassinated in his home in 2009.
Bonny Ndlazi claimed damages from the SAPS after she was tortured by police who believed she and her son were involved in the death of her husband, Jimmy Mohlala.
He was gunned down by unknown men on the ground floor of their double-storey home in January 2009, while Ndlazi was on the second floor of the house.
A police officer identified only as Mthombeni visited the family home soon after the assassination and asked the widow if she could identify the killers. She told them she had not seen what happened.
A contingent of about 12 police officers returned three weeks later.
They took Ndlazi into the garage, questioned her about the killers and showed her a picture of one of her sons, who was photographed with a lot of money around him.
The police then ordered her and her son Wandile to get into a police vehicle and told them they were going to the police station.
They instead drove the two to an open field, where the widow’s wrists were handcuffed behind her back.
Ndlazi’s head was covered with a plastic bag and she was repeatedly shocked with an electric device attached to her waist.
She said she was so “severely tortured” that she eventually confessed to arranging the murder, which she knew nothing about. Every time she said she knew nothing, a remote control would be pushed, activating the device and sending electric waves through her body.
To end the torture, she told the police she had paid the killers R10 000 to eliminate her husband.
Mthombeni then tried to treat her wounds with ice cubes. She told him she would lay a charge of assault against the police who tortured her and he, according to her, warned her that the police would burn down her house and kill her children if she did so.
Ndlazi nevertheless laid the charge, but she told the court that up to now she had not heard anything.
Various pictures were handed to court, showing her injuries, which included bleeding feet and lacerations across her body.
Her son Wandile was awarded R150 000 in damages for the torture he had to endure at the hands of the police. He was also smothered with a plastic bag, shocked and hit over the head with a dictionary. He suffered burns across his body from the electric shocks.
The police simply denied that they had tortured either of the two.
Regarding the claim of the widow, Judge Peter Mabuse said she was an educator who had lost her husband in mysterious circumstances. He was assassinated at the place he regarded as his last bastion. She, the judge said, was mourning the death of her “dear husband”.
“For no apparent reason the police smelled a rat that she was involved in the killing. It is not so much the suspicion, as it was the repugnant treatment that was meted out to her that is of great concern.
“She was tricked and told she was being taken to the police station. Instead, she was taken to a bush where she was kept captive for hours,” Judge Mabuse said.
The judge said Ndlazi was helpless and suffered serious injuries.
Regarding the damages for her son, the judge said the matter was exacerbated by the fact that the police had a duty to protect citizens. He said the assaults were clearly planned, as the police took their torture devices to the family’s home.
No one has been arrested for the killing. - Pretoria News