Taxpayers fork out R300 000 for SAPS bungling

Taxpayers fork out R300 000 for SAPS bungling. Picture: File

Taxpayers fork out R300 000 for SAPS bungling. Picture: File

Published Feb 27, 2024


A motorist accused of speeding and who was thrown into a filthy police cell, without issuing him with a speeding ticket or using functioning equipment to measure his speed, is set to receive R300 000 in damages from the law enforcement authorities.

Jean-Pierre Egerer instituted a damages claim in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, against both the police and the Ekurhuleni metro police. His first claim is for unlawful arrest and detention and his second claim is for defamation, after the officers apparently belittled him in front of the public and his family.

While the SAPS and the Ekurhuleni Metro Council were issued with a summons regarding this case, neither of them pitched at court to defend the matter.

Acting Judge ENW Khwinana remarked that the law enforcement authorities did not enter an intention to defend the matter. The court thus had to accept the word of Egerer about what happened that day, as there was nothing to refute it.

He told the court that he was arrested in April 2017 at a traffic light at Range View Road, Benoni. He explained that he was arrested by traffic officers for allegedly exceeding the speed limit. But he was never shown the speed he was said to have been travelling and it is also claimed by him that there was an inaccurate reading of the speed he was travelling at.

Egerer said he was detained at the Brakpan police station department without just cause.

He was released the following day on a warning to appear in court.

He said he appeared several times in court and the matter was ultimately withdrawn against him.

According to Egerer, the police and the metro police had no justification to arrest and detain him, as they did not have a warrant of arrest. To make things worse, he said they made unsavoury and derogatory remarks in the presence of the public and his family towards him.

He also said that he was detained in deplorable and unhygienic conditions with three other inmates. He was denied his medication. He says the cell was gloomy and he could not keep track of time.

According to Egerer, the cell was very dirty and he had to sleep next to a stinking toilet and had no toilet paper. He said he did not have privacy from the other inmates when using the toilet.

He described all this as “cruel punishment” and he said the officers’ bad-mouthing him in front of others was humiliating and degrading.

It was argued on his behalf that there was no need for the officers to have thrown him into a cell to ensure that he would attend court later.

Judge Khwinana said law enforcement officers must make very sure that it is necessary to detain a person, before doing so, as it is a well-established principle of our law that a person’s freedom and security are sacrosanct and are protected by our Constitution.

“Our Constitution values freedom, understandably so when regard is had to how, before the dawn of democracy, freedom for the majority of our people was close to non-existent. The primacy of ‘human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms’ is recognised in the founding values contained in section 1 of the Constitution…,” the judge said.

The court did not entertain Egerer’s claim for defamation, as the judge said no evidence was presented as to exactly what was said and how this affected him.

But the judge concluded that R300 000 in damages for unlawful arrest and detention was fair.

Pretoria News

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