A domestic worker who was detained for 72 hours with her eight-month-old baby daughter after refusing to pay a bribe to two police officers has been awarded damages of R180 000.
The Tembisa mother was walking to Birchleigh train station in Kempton Park on July 7, 2015, when she was stopped by two police officers, who asked for her identity.
When she showed them her valid asylum-seeker permit, they alleged the permit was not valid because the stamp of the commissioner of oaths on it had expired.
She was arrested and told she was being charged for being an illegal foreigner, but was never warned of her rights.
On the way to the police station, one of the female police officers asked her for money to buy chickens, but she told them she had none, whereupon she was told they would have let her go if she had given them money.
When they arrived at Tembisa police station, she told officials she was breastfeeding her baby, who was at a crèche waiting to be collected, but they said she could phone someone to bring the baby to her.
When her husband arrived at the police station with her original asylum-seeker permit and their baby, the police still refused to release her and told her to take care of her baby in dusty unsanitary police cells occupied by numerous other detainees.
She could not bathe her baby for 72 hours and the police ignored her pleas that her baby needed to go to a clinic as she had a terrible cough.
She was not brought before a court within 48 hours and was only released 72 hours later after Lawyers for Human Rights obtained a high court order declaring her detention unlawful and ordering her release.
The woman also lost her job as a domestic worker because her employer viewed her as a criminal and no longer trusted the validity of her immigration documents.
The Pretoria Regional Court ruled that her arrest and detention had been unlawful and ordered the police minister to pay her R180 000 damages. LHR said the police had conceded the allegations of corruption and bribery.