A Durban High Court judge has found the eThekwini municipality liable for damages suffered by a Port Shepstone woman, who says two metro policemen viciously assaulted her and called her a “k*****”.
A criminal charge levelled against one of the policemen was subsequently withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.
But then the woman brought civil action against the municipality and, last week, Judge Jacqui Henriques found she had proved her case on a balance of probabilities.
She ruled the municipality was liable to compensate the woman for 100% of her damages and awarded her costs.
A trial to determine quantum, was adjourned.
On the woman’s version of events, the assault took place in November 2014, when she was living in Port Shepstone.
She was with her brother-in-law and he was directing her to his home in Westville North, when she took a wrong turn.
She stopped her car, put her hazards on and reversed towards a painted island.
While waiting to see if it was safe to re-enter traffic, a metro police car stopped in front of her and two white policemen got out with their guns drawn.
She got out of her car to explain to them that she was lost but before she could say anything, one of the policemen punched her in her face and she fell to the ground.
He started kicking her and swearing at her, the woman said.
He called her a “k*****” and a “f*****,” she went on, and told her he “did not even know whether she was male or female”.
Eventually, the woman was allowed to climb into the back of her car and her brother-in-law drove her home.
Later, she went to Life Westville Hospital, where she was treated for the injuries.
The municipality called the policemen to testify.
Their evidence was that they suspected the woman’s car was hijacked when they stopped in front of her.
They conceded they drew their firearms and that they were “not sure if the driver of the vehicle was a male or a female because of the way the driver was dressed”.
One said that the woman appeared drunk and during a tussle for the car keys, he “pushed” her and she fell to the ground.
But they both denied swearing at or assaulting the woman.
However, the municipality also called one of the passengers in the woman’s car that day, as its own witness.
And he corroborated her version of events.
Judge Henriques said if the city had not called him, the court would have been faced with two “diametrically opposed” versions of events.
Municipal spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa said on Tuesday her offices respected the court’s decision.