Pretoria - He was locked up for no reason in a filthy cell with eight “bandits” and now he is claiming R1.6 million from the police.

Mpumalanga business owner Vayisa Johannes Kabini, who has turned to the Pretoria High Court, says although he was cleared of any wrongdoing, because of his arrest he is now regarded as “a crook” by his community.

The 64-year-old, who owns several businesses outside Siyabuswa, near KwaMhlanga, said at about 9am on January 11, 2012, he was inside one of his supermarkets doing some plastering when eight members of the Siyabuswa police entered all the buildings on the premises, including the supermarket.

There were about five unmarked police vehicles outside and none of the policemen wore uniform, he said. “When they again approached the supermarket, I asked them who they were and what they wanted, as it was my property. None of them answered me, and I asked the same question three times.”

Kabini said one of the policeman then twice threatened to “bliksem” (hit) him.

He said he lifted his arms to protect himself and the man who hit him fell over backwards. A second man then also hit him, he said.

Kabini said the other men also entered the shop and bound his hands and feet with chains that were so tight his hand swelled up.

“I was guided to a double-cab bakkie. There were a lot of people from the community witnessing this and they were my customers,” he said.

He was taken to the Siyabuswa police station and charged with assaulting a police officer and having a gambling machine in his shop.

According to Kabini it was at this point that he realised for the first time that the men who had entered his shop were members of the SAPS. “I was placed in a holding cell, where the police told the other detainees to assault me. I was in there with eight other detainees and the cell was 4m by 3m. It was dirty and smelly,” he said.

Kabini said he was assaulted by the other detainees while inside the cell and although he was given food, it was “not good”.

Later that afternoon he was released on warning and appeared in court a few times, before he was acquitted. “I was extremely scared, humiliated and shocked by the conduct of the SAPS. I am, to this day, afraid of them. I used to trust the SAPS to protect me.”

Kabini said since his arrest his business had deteriorated because the community now viewed him as a “crook”.

Kabini received permission from the court yesterday to proceed with his claim, although the time frame during which he should have alerted the police about the pending claim had lapsed.

No date has been set down for the trial.

Pretoria News