Wrongful arrest claim against Minister of Police

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Pretoria - A Vosloorus man is claiming R500 000 from the minister of police and the National Prosecuting Authority after being arrested on allegations of being in possession of stolen goods - including bibles - and being detained for nine days before the case was withdrawn.

Phillip Setlhapelo, 37, said in papers before the Pretoria High Court that he had been wrongfully arrested in Brooklyn on September 5, 2010. According to him he was subsequently detained by policemen, whose identities he does not know.

Setlhapelo said he was at first locked up in the cells at the Brooklyn police station, after which he was taken to the Pretoria Central Prisonm, where he remained in custody for more than a week.

He stated that he had no idea what he had done wrong, but the police laid a false charge of possession of stolen property, alternatively theft, against him.

He was told that he had stolen bibles, calculators and other items, but the police could not tell him from whom he had stolen them or who the complainant was.

Setlhapelo said that in charging him, the police made use of false statements or disinformation and, according to him, they knew this information was not true.

He appeared in the Hatfield District Court. Charges against him were withdrawn on September 14, 2010.

He said he was simply released, without any reasonable explanation given to him.

He is claiming R400 000 for general damages and R50 000 each for loss of income and for legal costs incurred.

The office of the State attorney asked Acting Judge Pieter van der Byl this week for permission to file the defence of the police and the prosecuting authority late, stating that due to the “enormous volume of work” at the office of the State attorney, their response could not be filed on time.

The State attorney also objected to the statements made by Setlhapelo. They were said to be incoherent and confusing.

Judge Van der Byl postponed the matter indefinitely.

Pretoria News

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