File picture: Se-Anne Rall / Independent Media.
File picture: Se-Anne Rall / Independent Media.

Cop guilty of beating up suspected drag racer

By MERVYN NAIDOO Time of article published May 24, 2020

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Durban - It was improper for a metro police officer to assault a suspected drag racer who allegedly ignored an instruction to stop and drove through red robots in an attempted getaway, a court ruled this month.

Naeem Naidoo was forced off the road by the policeman during the May 11, 2006 incident, but the beating he received left him with fractured ribs and other injuries, and a two-week stay in hospital. Naidoo filed a damages claim for pain, suffering, loss of income and alleged wrongful arrest, of nearly R1 million, in March 2007.

eThekwini Municipality and the policeman were respondents in the matter that came before the Durban High Court. Naidoo was represented by law firm Logan Naidoo and Associates.

Naidoo and the respondents agreed that the court should first deal with the issue of “liability” before delving into the damages claimed in the matter.

With regards to liability, acting Judge Thomas Ncube ruled that he found there was “no justification for the assault, therefore, it was unlawful.”

Naidoo, a businessman, drove with three relatives to Durban’s Blue Lagoon to buy food on his birthday. He was driving back to his Isipingo home when he noticed his mother’s previously hijacked Monza vehicle on the road and he decided to follow the car.

He was drawn on to N2 northbound and while in pursuit of the Monza, he spotted a metro police vehicle parked at the PetroPort garage and approached them for assistance.

But Naidoo said the policemen “laughed” off his plea and he resorted to pursuing the Monza once again. But it was fruitless and headed home.

While travelling on the N2 southbound carriageway, Naidoo said he was “pushed” off the road by a metro police vehicle.

Once he stopped, the policeman forced Naidoo’s door open, “bashed his head and face with a torch”, before flinging him onto the tarmac and handcuffing him. Naidoo said while on the ground, the policeman “booted” him repeatedly for a few minutes and accused him of being a hijacker running away from police.

He said he was taken to the SAPS Greenwood Park police station where he was assaulted again by the policeman before being detained and released on R200 bail the next day.

Naidoo was charged with reckless and negligent driving.

A doctor’s diagnosis showed he had four cracked ribs, bruised knees, and soft tissue damage on his chin and forehead, which necessitated his 14-day hospital stay.

In his testimony, the policeman said he noticed two cars, an Opel and a Golf, spinning their tyres before racing off on a stretch of road known to be a “racing hot spot”, and gave chase with his siren and blue lights on. He pursued the Opel, which was driven by Naidoo, who ignored red robots and his partner’s signal to stop. The policeman said he forced Naidoo off the road and got him to stop.

He denied assaulting Naidoo, and said he had no injuries when handed over to SAPS officials for detention.

The policeman’s partner corroborated his version of events in court.

Judge Ncube said the criminal charges against Naidoo were withdrawn because the State’s witnesses failed to attend. He said the fractured ribs supported Naidoo’s claim. He ruled the respondents were liable for damages, the resulting injuries Naidoo suffered from the assault, and his legal fees.

Msawakhe Mayisela, municipality spokesperson, said: “The city is still studying the judgment”.

Sunday Tribune

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