Ex-soldier loses claim against police

FILE PICTURE: Members of the South African Police Services. Picture: Morapedi Mashashe

FILE PICTURE: Members of the South African Police Services. Picture: Morapedi Mashashe

A civil claim against the police by former SA Defence Force soldier Willem Ratte failed in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

Ratte lost his claim of R1.1 million against the minister of police, and another four lost their claims of R609,181.

Ratte, Petrus Hermanus Visser, Wesley Bornman, Corne de Beer and Christopher Riaan Meyer filed the claims alleging that on September 30, 2010 police illegally searched, arrested, and detained them.

The terrorism charges against them were withdrawn in the regional court in eMalahleni (Witbank) in 2011.

Judge Bill Prinsloo said police searched all rooms, except Ratte’s, at a hostel in Balmoral, after a usually reliable informant said military training was underway to overthrow the government.

Prinsloo said a large amount of weapons and ammunition was found. The group had a parade ground, a flagpole, and uniforms.

Prinsloo said he could not see how it could be said that the policeman, identified only as Mahlangu, had acted illegally or irrationally.

He had no agenda against them and did not know them before September 20.

“In a way it could be said that the claimants were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Prinsloo.

Ratte, a former SA Defence Force soldier, occupied Fort Schanskop, in Pretoria, with an armed group calling itself the Pretoria Boer Commando on December 16, 1993. It was intended as a protest against a multi-racial government. He was sentenced to 20 years in jail for the occupation, 15 of which were suspended.

In 2010 he was arrested on charges of illegal possession of dagga, unlicensed firearms and ammunition. He went on a month-long hunger strike while in prison that year. The charges were later withdrawn.


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