Taxpayers have to pay R1m for cops blunder

The eThekwini municipality has taken the owners of Giba Gorge to the Durban High Court in a bid to have a judge order “unauthorised” structures there torn down.

The eThekwini municipality has taken the owners of Giba Gorge to the Durban High Court in a bid to have a judge order “unauthorised” structures there torn down.

Published Apr 15, 2024


A suspected robber who was incarcerated for 202 days under harrowing circumstances before the prosecution withdrew all the charges against him, is set to receive just over R1-million in damages from the police - money which comes from the taxpayer’s pocket.

Jongile July turned to the North West High Court, sitting in Mafikeng, where he initially claimed R7.3m.

His claim followed his arrest and detention by the SAPS, who had opposed his bail application. July claimed the police had presented false evidence against him during the bail application, which resulted in him spending 202 behind bars.

July subsequently held the police minister vicariously liable for the actions of the SAPS members involved in his case..

He was arrested on July 11, 2015, and detained at the Wesselsbron police station in the Free State. He was detained until January 28, 2016 when charges against him were withdrawn.

July testified that he was near a tavern when the police saw him and accused him of being a robber, of which he knew nothing.

According to him the conditions in the cells were inhumane, dirty and overcrowded, while the food was not suitable for human consumption.

He detailed the conditions under which he was detained, stating that he was kept in a cell with 30 other inmates.There was one toilet shared by 30 inmates, and there was no privacy as some relieved themselves while others were eating. They took turns to clean the toilet. He stated that on his arrival the other inmates threatened and bullied him.

With regard to the food they were given, July testified that the pap they were given to eat was not edible. At first he did not eat the pap, but as time went by he did eat it as he had no other option.

On his return home, members of the community mocked him and stigmatised him for being a murderer, and songs were composed about his arrest.

July told the court that he felt a sense of loss as a result of his arrest and detention. He lost his unborn child and his uncle also passed away while he was in prison. He could not attend to his cultural responsibilities as the eldest son in his family because he was in detention.

Regarding his arrest and detention, July testified that it caused him emotional shock and traumatised him. He stated that to this day, he feared the police as he still remembers the events of the day he was arrested and his incarceration.

A psychologist’s report to the court revealed that July was suffering from secondary “moderate mental and behaviour impairment in the form of depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).”

According to the case docket, it appeared that July was arrested along with two other robbery suspects. All three stood trial and towards the end charges were withdrawn against him, while his co-accused were convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each.

Judge Sandiswa Mfenyana commented that R7-million was way too much damages to claim. But she said the determination of damages presented difficulties, occasioned by the fact that there was no fixed method of ascertaining the amount of damages.

“Courts are also not able to gaze into a crystal ball in order to determine the appropriate award.”

But, she concluded, under the circumstances R1-m was fair compensation.

The judge noted that the cops had known at some stage that they had no evidence against July, yet they did not reveal this to the prosecution.

If they did, it would have spared the taxpayer a lot of money.

Pretoria News

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SAPSHigh Court