The police minister has agreed to pay R400 000 damages to a young Atteridgeville man who could not sleep for five days while locked up in a filthy, overcrowded police cell with 35 other inmates for no good reason.
In terms of a settlement reached in the High Court in Pretoria this week, the minister agreed to compensate Evin Mokiti, 28, for his ordeal at the hands of the police in June 2015, when he was unlawfully arrested in Witbank for allegedly “interfering” with police duties.
The minister will also have to pay Mokiti’s legal costs.
Mokiti, who is self-employed, initially claimed R725 000 from the police for his unlawful arrest and detention, as well as his emotional shock, psychological stress and trauma.
He said in court papers he was kept in custody for five days without ever being brought before a court and was released without any charges being laid against him.
He was detained in a small holding cell with about 35 other inmates and it was so congested that he could not walk freely from one point to another without standing on people lying on the floor.
He was not provided with a blanket and had to lie down on an unhygienic, filthy and smelly floor mat and share one flea- and bedbug-infested blanket with three other people.
In addition, there was only one open toilet in the cell which did not flush as they were informed there was no water.
Mokiti said he could not sleep during his whole period of detention because of the congestion and noise in the cell. He was not given any food at all on the day after his arrest and was told there was no more food as the other inmates had already eaten.
On subsequent days, he only received black tea without sugar and four slices of dry bread for breakfast, followed by porridge with soup and samp with chicken or sausage for lunch on the other days, but the food was half-cooked and gave him a runny tummy.
A psychologist said in a report Mokiti was now very wary in his dealings with the police, needed some closure about the incident and wanted to see that justice was done and the officers who arrested and locked him up were dealt with.