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Pretoria - A man from Ermelo in Mpumalanga is claiming R3.5 million in damages from the police following his harrowing ordeal when he was allegedly gang-raped by eight inmates in a Polokwane police cell after he was arrested for negligent driving, alternatively driving under the influence of alcohol.

The 30-year-old, who may not be identified, instituted the claim in the Pretoria High Court.

He was involved in an accident on January 6, 2008, after he was driving home from a friend’s place and his tyre burst. He hit a traffic light and was taken to hospital by ambulance with broken ribs and bruises.

He stated in court papers that when he was discharged from hospital a few hours later, the police waited for him outside the building and arrested him without a warrant.

According to him he was cuffed and thrown with force into the back of a police van. He stated that the cops drove the van in such a manner that he fell around in the back. He could not hold on to anything as he was cuffed and as he was already injured due to the accident, he suffered more pain and discomfort.

He begged the officers at the police station, in vain, to allow him to make a call to inform his family where he was and to call his lawyer.

He said he was thrown into a cell, with about 25 other detainees. He was raped by a group of about eight of these men, who pushed his head into a pillow to muffle his cries while they raped him. According to court papers he was repeatedly raped and assaulted in the cell.

He said no police officer came to check on what was happening in the cell and his cries for help went unanswered. He was only released the next morning when he was able to contact his lawyer, who arranged bail for him.

He had to receive antiretroviral drugs and was later told that he had not contracted HIV.

He is blaming the police for his nightmare ordeal and accused them of being negligent. His case is based on the fact that the SAPS had a legal duty to protect him while in custody.

He is also contesting the validity of his incarceration overnight, stating that there was no reason to keep him behind bars in order to ensure that he would appear in court later. (It is not clear what eventually happened to his criminal case.)

The police are alleged to have failed to establish whether the man was a flight risk or posed a risk to others before denying him his freedom.

The man said his life had been shattered by his ordeal. He suffered injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.He had lost his job, as he could no longer work, due to his mental state.

His claim included R1.5m for the injuries he suffered as a result of the rape and R1.2m for loss of income.

The police denied liability and said they had been within their rights in arresting the man as he had been suspected of drunken driving or reckless and negligent driving. It was stated that a blood sample taken from him confirmed that he was under the influence of alcohol.

It was denied that he was raped.

According to a psychologist’s report, the man has severe post-traumatic stress disorder, and the condition is becoming worse. The man has outbursts of anger, he acts in an unstable manner towards people, and he repeatedly relives his ordeal in his mind and by talking about it.

He is also upset about losing his job as a courier and about being unemployed.

The matter was postponed indefinitely.

Pretoria News