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Wrongful Arrest Results in R2.6-million Payout from Police Ministry

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

Ntokozo Patrick Xulu, a South African man who was wrongfully arrested and detained for 813 days, has been awarded R2.6 million in damages from the Minister of Police, as ruled by the Johannesburg High Court.

In an unfortunate turn of events, Xulu, a victim of an attempted hijacking, fatally shot one of his attackers in self-defence, and was later arrested while on his way to report the incident to the police. Despite his consistent claims of self-defence, Xulu was detained and spent over two years in prison awaiting trial.

Acting Judge Irene de Vos highlighted in her ruling the police's failure to present substantial evidence of Xulu's self-defence to the prosecution. This suppression of evidence by the police led to Xulu's prolonged courtroom battle.

The judge remarked on Xulu's frequent assertion of his right to self-defence, stating that "his persistent refrain during his testimony was that ‘I told them, but no one would listen to me. I was the victim of crime, but they treated me like a criminal."

Proof of police negligence came in the form of a cover letter sent to ballistics for testing a week after Xulu's arrest. In the letter, the Commander of Crime Investigation Services in Hillbrow confirmed that a hijacker was shot "in the act", thereby confirming Xulu's claims of self-defence.

The ruling also underlined the gross inadequacies in the police investigation, and the failure to support Xulu's defence, which ultimately led to his denial of bail.

Judge de Vos ordered the Minister of Police to compensate Xulu R2.6 million for the wrongful arrest and detention, stressing that the police's ineptitude had significant negative impact on Xulu's life. The minister was also ordered to pay the costs of the application on a punitive scale.

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