Pretoria - In a postscript to the widely reported police raid on the Waterkloof home of Gaye Derby-Lewis (wife of Chris Hani killer Clive Derby-Lewis) 12 years ago, the minister of police has been ordered to pay her R266 000.
The North Gauteng High Court’s Judge Jody Kollapen on Thursday ordered that she must be paid R140 000 in damages for being detained over a weekend at the Brooklyn police station, R40 000 for malicious prosecution on charges of being illegally in possession of firearms and ammunition, and a further R86 000 towards her legal costs.
In 2012, the court found that her arrest, detention and subsequent prosecution were without reasonable grounds.
She was 53 years old and lived alone when the police raided her home in the early hours of November 29, 2002.
Her husband was (and still is) in jail following the murder of SACP leader Hani in 1993.
Derby-Lewis testified that she came across a police contingent of about 12 SAPS members when she went to her gate to fetch a newspaper. She was dressed in her pyjamas and was told by the police they were looking for fugitives.
She told them there was no one in her home, but they climbed over the wall and she eventually opened the gate for them.
The police searched her house and the door to her storage room was broken open. She said the search was invasive as her clothes and underwear drawers were searched.
Derby-Lewis said she was not badly treated by the police during the search.
They found two revolvers and three rifles in her home. The rifles were not in working condition and were in any case antiques, while the revolvers belonged to her and her son.
She was arrested and taken to the police station, where she was kept in a dark room for half an hour. Derby-Lewis was then locked in a filthy and smelly cell. She was allowed to make calls to her lawyer and friends who brought her cleaning materials, food and clothes.
A friend testified that Derby-Lewis was shivering and was stressed as she tried to secure her release following her arrest. She produced licences for two of the weapons but the police did not want to accept them, as they said more than two weapons had been found.
Derby-Lewis was released on R3 000 bail after appearing in court.
Six months later she was acquitted on all charges.
Derby-Lewis said her arrest, detention and subsequent prosecution had a significant effect on her and she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A psychologist said Derby-Lewis was worried about her financial position which deteriorated when her husband was arrested in 1993. She was also detained after his arrest and had to spend 10 days in solitary confinement, an extremely traumatic experience from which she never fully recovered.
Judge Kollapen said it is clear that Derby-Lewis suffers from PTSD due to the numerous stressful situations she was exposed to.
This included the negative connotation of her surname held by the general public and that she had been unfairly harassed by the police over the past 21 years. He added that the events of 2002 clearly contributed to this.
Not only was her arrest embarrassing as it was witnessed by her immediate neighbours, but it received worldwide publicity.
The judge said Derby-Lewis was a strong and driven woman, which helped her during those trying times.
He said she also had to be a pillar of strength for her husband over the years. He is in a prison hospital and is suffering from cancer.