Police sued for ‘false’ rape imprisonment

Picture: Tracy Lee Stark.

A Soweto man who claims he was incarcerated for almost a year after being unlawfully arrested on a “false” charge of rape is suing the police service for over R500 000 in damages.

The North Gauteng High Court last week gave Kevin Stemar permission to go ahead with his claim, despite his failure to institute the claim against the police minister and national director of public prosecutions within the prescribed period.

Stemar said in court papers his only concern at the time had been to prove his innocence and he was initially not aware that he could institute a civil claim.

He said he was suffering from post-traumatic stress, was seeing a psychologist and was afraid to institute any civil claim against the police as he was afraid of retaliation.

He only consulted a lawyer after he was acquitted in October 2011.

He is claiming damages for deprivation of freedom, humiliation and being detained under cruel, inhuman or degrading circumstances.

He claimed he was deprived of food and water, the cells were dirty, unhygienic and infested with lice and fleas, no proper sleeping facilities were provided and the police did not respect the dignity of detainees.

He further alleged the police and prosecution had no probable cause to charge him with rape, nor could they have had any reasonable belief in the truth of the information at their disposal.

He claimed he was prosecuted even though DNA evidence was available to the prosecution confirming that he was not linked to the alleged rape and had numerous alibis confirming he was not involved.

The defendants denied any liability, saying Stemar was arrested in Soweto in November 2010 after the victim fingered him as a culprit in a “rape orgy”. She led police to the scene and pointed him out as one of the assailants – a claim she still maintains.

They said the conditions of Stemar’s detention were not inhuman, but “commensurate with the resource at their disposal”.

The claim will only proceed at a later stage.

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