Cops' costly drug den mix-up
Sean Early, 54, who owned his own plumbing business, said he would not have been so livid with the police if they had simply apologised and offered to pay for the damages to his property.
“They have not even come back to me to acknowledge their mistake. They did not even bother to return my calls,” an upset Early said.
He turned to the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court to claim damages – for his front gate and electric fence which were damaged, as well as for his reputation.
“The incident occurred three years ago but still to this day, my neighbours give me the hairy eyeball. I feel like a criminal as they give me ‘the look’ when I leave my house.”
Early said that to make matters worse, the police twice after the first incident made the same mistake. But on those occasions someone was at least home to tell them they had the wrong address.
The mix-up came as Early lived in 44th Avenue and the police were looking for a “drug den” which had exactly the same street number as him, but in 44th Street instead of Avenue.
His ordeal started on January 16, 2014, while he was on a business trip with a friend.
“We were on our way to Musina and were about three hours away from my home when I got a call from one of his employees. He told me the police were breaking into my house, as it was “a drug den”.
Early alerted one of his neighbours to go and see what was happening. The police refused the neighbour entry into the premises and told him they were in the process of arresting “a Nigerian drug lord”.
The police eventually left after they found nothing and realised their mistake, but they left some damage behind.
Early said he phoned the Benoni police station as he was extremely upset about his gate and electric fencing. “It looked as if a bulldozer went through it. I had just repaired my electric fencing the previous day.”
Both the metro police and the SAPS went to his house twice more looking for the “drug lord”.
But Early said he told them they had the wrong address. He said the damage to his gate and fence amounted to R16 400.
He claimed a further R100 000 for his hurt feelings. The amount due to Early is to be determined.