Pretoria - A Ga-rankuwa teacher will receive R400 000 in damages from the police following her wrongful arrest for her husband's murder three years after his death.
Rebecca Mpho Mole told the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria that she had to spend five fearful days in a filthy police cell before she was allowed to go home.
The magistrate's court declined to prosecute her. During her stay in prison, the 59-year-old was assaulted and tortured by the police who tried to extract a confession from her.
Mole said although her name was now cleared, she still suffered from the trauma of her ordeal and she felt “naked” when she had to face the community.
Her husband was shot at the couple's home in Ga-Rankuwa Heights in April 2005 after he had returned from a business meeting.
Mole said she was waiting for him to return and when she heard the gate open she thought it was him.
She then heard three gunshots outside, but she thought it was elsewhere. When he did not come into the house, she went outside and found him in a pool of blood.
His attackers were never apprehended.
Three years later her son told her that the police were at their house looking for her. She went to the police station the next day.
Mole said the officers aggressively asked her who had murdered her husband. She was told to take off her earrings, after which the interrogation started.
She said a plastic bag was pulled over her head and she was questioned for about 90 minutes, before she was taken to a cell. She noticed the word “Mpho” engraved on the floor inside the cell, and did not know if it was there all the time or meant for her.
Before being locked up she called her school principal and colleagues to tell them what was happening to her.
She had to remain in custody for five days, where she only had a dirty blanket to keep out the cold.
Her court case was delayed and she was told by the police to go home until they called her to return to court. Her lawyer later phoned her to tell her the case had been withdrawn.
She said her husband's family had from the start accused her of his death. She had to get a court order against them after the funeral.
Her children, who were small at the time, were so traumatised by her ordeal that they had to receive counselling.
She is also concerned that others see her as a murderer and after all these years, it is difficult for her to come to terms with her ordeal.
According to a psychological report before court, she was severely affected by her arrest and suffered from anxiety.
She was still teaching and her colleagues were very supportive of her.