Judge Annah Kgoele in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria ordered the police minister to compensate Joseph Mokoena for his unlawful detention, assault and the loss of his cellphone at the hands of the Elandskraal police in January 2010.
The police admitted detaining Mokoena for questioning during their search for a suspect connected to a policeman’s murder, but denied assaulting him. However, Kgoele rejected the police’s version and accepted the evidence of Mokoena and several eyewitnesses about his detention and assault.
She said it was clear there was pressure on the police to apprehend the suspect. It was highly improbable that the investigation would have been treated like a normal investigation, as the policemen involved claimed.
The investigation started immediately and the police had issued pamphlets offering a reward of R50 000 within two days of the murder, she said. Mokoena testified that members of the police had detained him on a number of occasions and drove around with him to various places while looking for the murder suspect.
In the process he was kicked, slapped, punched in the stomach, pulled by his private parts until he screamed, hit on ear so hard that he partially lost his hearing, and suffocated with a plastic bag.
Mokoena testified he still had internal pains because he was kicked on his head, body and feet. He found it difficult to hear and his sleep had been affected. Before his ordeal started, Mokoena had gone to the police station to report that the suspect had earlier come to his house and asked for food and money.
Kgoele said the malice of the officers involved was grossly extreme and uncalled for. The police officers were only looking for information and they knew that their conduct in eliciting information in the manner they did was not only unlawful but morally reprehensible, she added.