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Pretoria - The minister of police has been ordered to pay R167 000 in damages to an Alberton couple after the man was severely assaulted by police and his wife suffered trauma as she watched her husband being beaten up.
Cornelius Frederick Erasmus, 65, a former policeman and retired fitter and turner, initially claimed R1.4 million in damages, while his wife Catharina Maria Erasmus claimed R150 000.
Apart from having to pay the damages to the couple, the police (the taxpayer) will also have to pay their legal costs. The police agreed to pay the damages.
They stated in papers before the Pretoria High Court that they were unlawfully arrested by four police at their Brackenhurst home late on the evening of April 26, 2008.
According to them an unidentified police captain assaulted Cornelius by hitting him with an open hand and fist. The assault, he said, took place in public. His wife claimed that she too, was slapped by the police.
Her husband’s wrists were also tightly bound with cuffs.
Cornelius was taken to the Alberton police station from that Saturday until the Monday morning. Following her arrest, his wife was released without being charged. Nothing came of the charge against him.
It was stated that Cornelius had suffered multiple external abrasions and he still suffered headaches and pain in his neck. His face was also disfigured following the blows to his eyes and he still does not have 100 percent feeling in both hands and his right pinky was dislodged. He was nevertheless locked up and only taken to hospital after his release.
He had to undergo medical treatment in hospital for two weeks and was unable to work for some time.
Cornelius claimed for loss of income and medical expenses, as well as R1m for pain, suffering and humiliation. His wife claimed R150 000 for the “emotional shock” of witnessing her husband being assaulted.
The police, despite agreeing to pay the damages, denied any liability.
It was explained that they went to the home of the couple that night looking for a suspect named Alex in connection with a complaint of assault.
When they got to the house the woman agreed to help them locate the suspect. However, her husband swore at the police, intimidated them and threatened them with violence.
He ignored several requests and warnings to allow the officers to conduct their investigations. He apparently prevented police from entering his premises by closing his gate, which trapped the hand of a police captain. Police said he also tried to grab the captain’s service pistol from its holster. They said they used minimal force under the circumstances.