R30m lawsuit for assault, wrongful arrest
GAUTENG police are facing more than R30 million in lawsuits for police brutality, wrongful arrest and negligence.
In six separate cases, the SAPS and Joburg metro police department (JMPD) stand accused of negligently shooting a minor in the eye, beating to death a person in custody, paralysing two motorists, and manhandling a woman and raping another at a police station.
And, in some of the cases, the only punishment the offending officers received was anger management classes.
Last week, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa revealed that nationwide more than R106m was paid in legal costs for 8 074 civil claims against the SAPS in the 2010/2011 financial year.
In the six cases that have taken place since December 2009, two are for R10m, another for R6m, one amounts to R3m and two claims are for just under a million rand.
Mthethwa and the City of Joburg have been served with summonses arising out of the lawsuits.
In one of the cases, 18-year-old Turffontein resident Peter Maloba is suing the JMPD for R3m after he lost an eye when he was shot during a wrongful arrest. Maloba is in constant pain and has not gone to school the entire year.
An officer allegedly shot Maloba, then 17, with a rubber bullet in the left eye while he was walking home with a friend following a Christmas party.
The officer suspected him of trying to hijack a car and allegedly shot him despite Maloba lying on the ground. Criminal charges were dropped against Maloba without reason.
Maloba yesterday told The Star he still saw the officer patrolling the area from time to time.
“Until today they have not given me and my family a reason for shooting me. I was not running away. The whole thing happened so fast. They have ruined my future,” said Maloba.
Maloba’s case is one of two JMPD civil suits that Pretoria-based law firm De Meyer and De Vries Attorneys are handling.
The other is that of a 43-year-old woman who was allegedly shot by a JMPD officer at a roadblock in Midrand. The woman, who does not want to be named for fear of victimisation, is suing the council for R10m.
In another case, a teenager was allegedly raped by a police officer at the Bronkhorstspruit police station on new year’s Eve in 2009.
The officer was alone at the station at the time and dragged the teenager into an office.
Her family are suing the police for R6m.
In the other two cases, which both took place in Pretoria this year, police allegedly manhandled two motorists. Hendrick Grobler, 36, was left paralysed, while Marina Kloppers was victimised and physically abused.
Police instructed Grobler to lie on the floor during a stop-and-search at a filling station. When Grobler, who had undergone back surgery, said he couldn’t, they forced him to the ground with automatic rifles pointed at him. Grobler is asking for R10m in damages.
Kloppers was allegedly victimised and physically abused after she refused to stop on a dark stretch of road when asked to pull over. She is asking for R750 000 in damages.
But for the Hogan family, the financial payout from the police will not bring back their son, brother and father or tell them how he died in the holding cells of the Florida police station a year ago.
All Riaan Velloen’s family know is that he left his Albertville home to buy cigarettes, and 12 hours later they received a call saying he had been in a motorbike accident.
When they found Velloen, he had been badly assaulted, with bruises and scars all over his body. Later, the family discovered he had been in police custody, having been taken in for drinking in public – even though he didn’t drink alcohol.
The post-mortem indicated that Velloen died from blunt-force injuries to his head, chest, back and limbs.
“It has been a year since this whole thing happened and we as the family cannot get closure because we don’t know what happened that night,” said Liza Lobban, Velloen’s sister.
Lobban said the family had been told that the three officers involved were found guilty and were sent for anger management classes.
Independent Complaints Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini confirmed that the officers were counselled and said the docket would be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision on whether to charge the officers or to hold an inquest. Histology reports had delayed the matter, he said.