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Man falsely accused of rape, unlawfully detained for 90 days claims R6m, awarded R350 000

A man was awarded R350 000 after an officer failed to tell the court that an alleged victim had a change of heart on the day of a man’s arrest and told police he did not rape her. Picture: File

A man was awarded R350 000 after an officer failed to tell the court that an alleged victim had a change of heart on the day of a man’s arrest and told police he did not rape her. Picture: File

Published May 26, 2022

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Pretoria - The conduct of an investigating officer in a rape and abduction case will cost the taxpayer dearly.

The officer failed to tell the court that an alleged victim had a change of heart on the day of a man’s arrest and told police he did not rape her.

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The man, who is not being identified because of being accused of rape, turned to the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to claim R6 million in damages from the police for unlawful arrest as well as for unlawful incarceration.

He was locked up for 90 days before the prosecutor discovered what the alleged victim had told the officer.

The officer never mentioned it in the case docket.

He also did not arrive at court on numerous occasions when the accused appeared in court.

When the officer was eventually summonsed to court, he admitted under oath that the alleged victim had told him, when he had arrested the accused, that she had not been raped, but that he had omitted to mention it earlier.

The court, meanwhile, had good and bad news for the man accused of rape.

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His claim for unlawful arrest was turned down, as the court found that the police up to that point did their job as they had enough evidence at the time to suspect him.

His prolonged incarceration was, however, declared unlawful and the court found he should be compensated for 85 of the 90 days in which he remained in jail.

As the officer omitted to mention the fact that the woman had a change of heart, and because he was still employed by the police, the court ordered the Ministry of Police to pay the accused R350 000 in damages.

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The man told the court he was arrested in March 2020 but was released only in June that year after the prosecution withdrew the charges against him.

According to him, he deserved R6 million for the harm he had suffered as a result of his arrest and incarceration.

He was arrested at his home on the outskirts of Johannesburg after the alleged victim pointed him out as her attacker.

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According to her, she met the plaintiff on open veld while she was walking home with a friend. She claimed he took out a knife and threatened to stab her if she refused to go with him to his shack.

She said that on arrival at his shack, she was held captive and raped repeatedly before she was rescued by a friend.

The woman said that during her six-day ordeal, she was tied to a chair with wire. She told police the plaintiff locked the shack and tied the window handles with wire.

The SAPS officers who arrested him, testified that they had done so after the alleged victim pointed him out.

The plaintiff cried and told them he did not rape the complainant. He said she was his girlfriend and used to sleep at his place.

But the police said the woman appeared to be traumatised when they interviewed her at the time, and a doctor who examined her could not rule out that she might have been raped.

The court found that up to this point the police could not be faulted as the officers’ conduct was reasonable.

From the first court appearance to the day the charges were withdrawn, the matter was postponed on 10 occasions as the officer never pitched, despite a number of requests from the prosecutor.

Judge Moleboheng Mdlana-Mayisela, in turning down the man’s R6m claim but awarding R350 000, commented that the purpose was not to enrich the aggrieved party but to offer solatium for his injured feelings.

Pretoria News

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