The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria granted default judgment in favour of Dudu Mhlangu, 34, declaring the police minister and a Middelburg police officer liable for the damages she suffered as a result of her alleged wrongful arrest, detention and assault at the hands of the police in 2010. In court papers, Mhlangu claimed she had been assaulted and tortured by members of the Serious and Violent Crimes Unit after being arrested at Morotobolong for alleged arson.
She said in an affidavit she was walking home after taking her sick child to a clinic when she was forced to get into an unmarked police vehicle.
The police at first wanted her to leave her child with a woman she had met on the street but after an argument, took the seven-year-old child along with them.
The scared, crying child was put in a filthy holding cell with her, but was later taken away to an unknown destination.
Mhlangu alleged two female police officers had threatened she would never see her child again if she did not cooperate.
She said police wanted her to implicate people in an arson incident in Siyhabuswa and told her they would make her talk as she was “too stubborn”.
Her hands and feet were cuffed, a heavy bulletproof jacket was placed over her body, making it difficult to breathe, and she was smothered with a plastic bag, Mhlangu claimed.
When she bit the bag open in a desperate attempt to breathe, the police threw “some sort of acid” into her mouth.
Mhlangu said she was so scared she eventually signed an affidavit falsely implicating other people in crimes.
She claimed her dignity was impaired and that she suffered from traumatic stress disorder as a result of her ordeal.
The amount of damages will be determined at a later stage.