Durban - A registered diamond dealer is demanding compensation after millions of rand worth of precious stones were confiscated from him by police following his arrest last September.

The charge of illegal possession of gemstones was subsequently withdrawn against former Durban businessman, Arvind Dhunpal Sewnath, 43. However, the gemstones were not returned to him.

This prompted Sewnath to file summons in the South Gauteng High Court last week, seeking compensation from Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Sewnath’s attorney Rajesh Hiralall said the summons was also on behalf of the first applicant in the matter, a mineral trading company, Talcom Zambia Investment Limited cc, which Sewnath co-owns with a Zambian priest.

In the papers, Sewnath said he was wrongfully and unlawfully arrested by three South African police officers, without cause on September 29. He said police officers had taken 11 diamonds weighing 26.5 carats and 1325 carats of emeralds with a total value R9627450, which were owned by the company.

“The second plaintiff carried the appropriate documentation required for the carriage of the stones which the police officers declined to refer to, despite repeated requests, either at the scene of the unlawful arrest or at the police station,” he said in the summons.

Sewnath was charged and detained at the Sandton police station over the period extending from September 29 until October 1 thereafter appearing in the Sandton Magistrate’s Court for a bail application.

The senior State prosecutor had subsequently withdrawn the charges due to lack of evidence. Sewnath said following the withdrawal of charges he sought a release of the diamonds and emeralds.

However, the request was declined by a police officer and the station commander.

Sewnath said he then opened a charge of wrongful arrest and theft of the gemstones.

However, the stones were still not returned. He added in the papers, that the number of diamond stones and emerald stones were falsely recorded in the police exhibit, and showed only two diamond stones and 30 emerald stones.

Sewnath is requesting that the company be compensated for the stones worth R9 627 450 with interest.

In addition, that he be paid R600000 for his wrongful and malicious arrest and detention.

The minister's office has 10 days to file its notice of intention to defend.

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