A Durban woman was picked up by police, accused of hiding drugs and subjected to a “brutal and disgusting” search. She has won damages from the State. Picture: Archives
A Durban magistrate has awarded a 47-year-old mother - who endured a “brutal and disgusting” cavity search, after she was arrested while waiting for the bus one evening - more than R100 000 in damages.

On the woman’s version of events, Wentworth police picked her up in Merebank, in November 2013.

They handcuffed her, threw her in the back of a police van and hauled her off to the station, where they accused her of hiding drugs in her private parts.

“(Police) subjected the (woman) to being stripped naked and intimately searched by two policewomen, who probed with their hands deep into the (woman’s) private parts and were unable to locate any drugs,” her particulars of claim read.

She said she was interrogated, without being advised of her right to legal representation, and that after six hours in custody, she was released.

She was never charged.

The woman said her dignity, reputation and personality was impaired and that she suffered psychological trauma.

Last week, magistrate Stanley Gumede ordered the Minister of Police to pay her R138 000. This included R100 000 for her arrest and detention and R38 000 for the damages she suffered as a result of the the subsequent search.

He also awarded her costs.

When she testified, the woman said the ordeal left her humiliated and traumatised.

She said she was so afraid of being ridiculed that she had to leave Merebank and move to Isipingo.

None of this was challenged by the State, the woman’s advocate, Ryan Naidu, told the court in his closing arguments.

He said the incident highlighted “the odious and repugnant conduct of some police officials that are paid to protect us”.

"The physical violation inflicted was brutal and disgusting in light of the fact that the police had not a shred or iota of information to suspect her as a drug dealer … Treatment meted out to her can only be described as inhumane and barbaric,” he said.

The minister’s spokesperson, Vuyo Mhaga, did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.