Vincent Luvhengo turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after he had found out that his name was reflected on the Local Criminal Records Centre of the SAPS. Picture: File
Vincent Luvhengo turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after he had found out that his name was reflected on the Local Criminal Records Centre of the SAPS. Picture: File

Labour official Vincent Luvhengo to sue SAPS over wrong criminal record

By Zelda Venter Time of article published Nov 22, 2021

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Pretoria - A director in the Department of Labour, who to his utter shock discovered that police records reflected for several years that there is a criminal case pending against him, while this was not the truth, has succeeded in his first step to sue the SAPS for reputational damages.

Vincent Luvhengo turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after he had found out that his name was reflected on the Local Criminal Records Centre of the SAPS.

Despite the fact that the records have meanwhile been set straight, Luvhengo said he has suffered damages.

In the opening to his judgment, Judge Norman Davis said: “It is easy to imagine one’s dismay at finding out that, unbeknown to oneself, the records kept by the Local Criminal Records Centre of the SAPS indicate that one has either been found guilty of a crime or there is a criminal case pending against one.”

Luvhengo was involved in a car accident in 2011 on the N1 highway between Musina and Makhado in Limpopo. It appears he was a driver of a motor vehicle at the time.

He was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, negligent or reckless driving or culpable homicide. The last charge emanated from the fact that a woman, 20, involved in the accident had died on the scene.

Another man involved in the accident also died due to blunt force trauma to the head sustained in the accident.

While Luvhengo was on bail pending the criminal charges against him, an inquest was held into the deaths of the deceased.

The inquest court, however, cleared Luvhengo from wrongdoing as it was concluded that the accident was caused by a burst tyre, which caused the vehicle to overturn.

The case docket reflected that the criminal case was closed in light of the inquest court’s finding. Luvhengo was also told that the matter was now in the past and that he could collect his bail money.

But somehow either someone forgot to input these facts on the SAPS criminal record system or some bungling occurred.

Years later in 2018, at the instance of the police minister, all police officers had to be vetted in respect of possible criminal cases pending against them or for disclosure of previous convictions.

This included Luvhengo, who was since 2012 employed as a legal administration officer at Police Headquarters in Pretoria, before he turned to the Department of Labour recently.

The unsuspecting Luvhengo submitted his fingerprints and to his surprise, he was flagged as having a criminal record. It was somehow reflected that he was guilty of culpable homicide, and that he had paid R1 000 “as acknowledgement of guilt fine”.

It also reflected wrongly that some criminal proceedings were pending.

Luvhengo only managed to have the record set straight after his attorney stepped in to reflect that there were no cases pending against him, and that he did not have a criminal record.

Luvhengo, however, maintained that the police had breached obligations from the start, accurately recording the status of his criminal record.

He claimed damages for shock and trauma. Judge Davis said that while he cannot say anything about the damages, Luvhengo did prove that the SAPS record wrongfully recorded a previous conviction or a pending criminal case against him.

“Whether this resulted in any damages and, if so, what the extent thereof may be, must still be proven at the next portion of the trial,” the judge said.

Pretoria News

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