The police minister has agreed to pay R70 000 damages to a former police inspector who was arrested and severely assaulted by police after they mistook his wife for a sex worker.
Former policeman Emile Drotsky, 46, was talking to his wife, Charlene Stoker, in their car at Magnolia Dal in Pretoria one night in June 2009, when they were confronted by policemen from the Sunnyside Police Station.
The policemen accused Drotsky’s wife of being a prostitute, sprayed Drotsky with pepper spray and later assaulted him in the police cells at the police station.
He was punched and kicked to such an extent that he sustained several fractured ribs, bruises and soft tissue injuries.
The police ignored Stoker’s protestations that she was not a prostitute, had done nothing wrong and was only talking to her husband to sort out their marital problems.
Even when Drotsky’s father came to the police station to vouch that they were married, police initially still refused to believe it because Stoker was coloured and her husband white and the surname on her identity document was in her maiden name.
The couple were only released after several hours.
A case of public indecency for having sex in public was initially opened against them but was later withdrawn. They have since been divorced and Drotsky lives in KwaZulu-Natal.
Police last year settled Stoker’s damages claim for R50 000, but according to the couple’s attorney, Jean-Paul Rudd, only recently offered to settle her former husband’s claim for his ordeal.
Stoker developed behavioural problems, anxiety, flashbacks, a sleep disorder, loss of confidence and became withdrawn after the incident.
She avoided the police and became angry and anxious when she saw a policeman. She said after the settlement the police had simply assumed that she was a prostitute because of her race.
Drotsky initially sued the police for R850 000 damages for his unlawful arrest, being deprived of his right to freedom, his physical and serious psychiatric injuries and the damage to his dignity and good name. He still required therapy because of the trauma he suffered.