South Africa 29.8.2018 06:25 am

Decade-old R7m damages claim against state disallowed

The Soshanguve man wrongly detained for rape only gave notice of his intended damages claim in 2012, by which time his claim had prescribed.

A Soshanguve man who suffers from post-traumatic stress after being arrested for rape over a decade ago and spending eight months behind bars has been disallowed from continuing with his damages claim against the state.

Acting Judge Jonas Mosopa ruled in the High Court in Pretoria that Mogotji Mafike’s R7 million damages claim against the justice and police ministers was not instituted within the legally prescribed period.

Mafike was arrested in February 2008 and detained for eight months before he was released on bail.

He was acquitted in 2011, but only gave notice of his intended damages claim in 2012, by which time three years had lapsed and his claim had prescribed.

Mafike claimed he suffered physical, psychological and emotional harm and experienced post-traumatic stress as a result of his unlawful arrest and detention, but that he only instructed his attorney to institute a damages claim after his acquittal.

Judge Mosopa refused to condone the late filing of the claim, saying the delay was inordinate and Mafike had not given a satisfactory explanation for it.

He said the human mind was fallible and if the matter was allowed to go to trial over events that happened in February 2008 there was a possibility the police witnesses would have forgotten about those events, especially given how many arrests and investigations they deal with.

He said there was also a likelihood that some of the police witnesses were deceased or were no longer working for the service, which would make it difficult to get them to attend court.

The judge also said he was of the view that the ministers would be hugely prejudiced if Mafike was granted condonation for his failure to comply with the provisions of the Act.

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