Litigation: Police to pay for jailing innocent man

The conduct of an investigating officer in a rape and abduction case will cost the taxpayer dearly. The officer did not tell the court the alleged victim had a change of heart on the day of the man’s arrest and told the police the suspect did not rape her. A Cape Times report says the man turned to the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) to claim R6m in damages from the police for unlawful arrest as well as for unlawful incarceration. He was locked up for 90 days before the prosecutor discovered what the alleged victim had told the officer. The officer never mentioned it in the case docket. He also did not arrive for court on numerous occasions when the accused appeared. When the officer was eventually summonsed to court, he admitted under oath that the alleged victim had told him – when he had arrested the accused – that she had not been raped, but that he had omitted to mention it earlier. The court, meanwhile, had good and bad news for the man accused of rape. His claim for unlawful arrest was turned down, as the court found that the police up to that point did their job as they had enough evidence at the time to suspect him. His prolonged incarceration was, however, declared unlawful and the court found he should be compensated for 85 of the 90 days in which he remained in jail. As the officer omitted to mention the fact that the woman had a change of heart, and because he was still employed by the police, the court ordered the Ministry of Police to pay the accused R350 000 in damages. Judge Moleboheng Mdlana-Mayisela commented that the purpose was not to enrich the aggrieved party but to offer solatium for his injured feelings.

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