A Mpumalanga man, whom police shot in the knee during a service delivery protest in Silobela in Carolina six years ago, has won the first round of his legal battle for compensation against the minister of police.
Judge Corrie van der Westhuizen ruled in the High Court in Pretoria that the minister was liable for the unjustified shooting of Mthobisi Perseverance Mngadi.
He was injured when the police opened fire on residents protesting over water delivery in May 2012.
Mngadi claimed in court papers the policeman shot him without any warning and then hit him on the back of his head with a firearm when he was already on the ground.
He said he was then dragged and thrown into the back of a police van before being taken to hospital.
He instituted a R3 million claim for permanent disability, his future medical expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity, pain, suffering and loss of the amenities of life.
The actual amount he will receive will be determined at a later stage.
Mngadi alleged the police officers were not only negligent, but had used deadly force without warning in a blatant and reprehensible manner under circumstances which did not require it.
He insisted he had not committed any act of violence, did not pose a serious bodily threat to anyone, was not armed and was not resisting arrest when he was shot.
He added that the police could have used a plethora of other means to apprehend him.
One of his friends said in a statement that they were part of a group singing songs and mobilising the residents of Silobela when police arrived and started shooting. The crowd dispersed, regrouped and then started throwing missives at the police for opening fire on them, he added.
The police initially opposed the claim. They said the officer involved had shot in self-defence, to maintain law and order as the protesters were throwing bricks and stones and did not stop despite several warning shots, and had tried to encircle them.
They denied that Mngadi was assaulted, saying he was arrested for public violence, malicious damage to property and attempted murder.