Manhandled granny paid

A 64-year-old Pretoria grandmother who was manhandled and locked up in a filthy police cell overnight after being accused of using pepper spray on her neighbour has been awarded R100 000 damages.

North Gauteng High Court Judge Frans Kgomo described the way police had acted towards Floris Engelbrecht as totally unbecoming and said she deserved compensation for her physical and emotional trauma.

Engelbrecht initially claimed R1 million damages after a November 2008 incident when two trainee constables stormed into her Sunnyside flat in the early hours of the morning.

Engelbrecht had earlier reported an altercation with neighbours to the police when someone tried to punch her and she was forced to use pepper spray to defend herself.

She told the court she was flabbergasted when the policemen grabbed her roughly by the arm and told her not to waste their time and that she was under arrest.

She was dressed only in her pyjamas and begged the policemen to allow her to change into day clothes, but was stark naked when one of them kicked open her bedroom door and grabbed her arm. She only managed to put on clothes when her son intervened, but thereafter one of the policemen threatened to shoot her.

The police tried to force her to walk downstairs, but eventually relented and used the lift because of her hip problem.

She was then bundled into the back of a police van and tossed about like an unsecured doll while the van raced through the streets to the police station. There she was locked up overnight in a filthy cell with blood spatters on the wall, no bed or mattress, a toilet pan with no seat and no toilet paper.

She was only allowed to leave the following afternoon but had to appear in the magistrate’s court on a charge of assault several times before the charge was withdrawn.

Engelbrecht said she was still traumatised and shook life a leaf whenever she saw a police van.

Judge Kgomo said the police had invaded Engelbrecht’s privacy and humiliated her when she thought they were coming to her rescue, refused to listen to her and manhandled her in the most inhumane way like a common criminal.

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