Ixopo police station to sell assets to pay man after wrongful arrest

The Ixopo police station will on Friday take the extraordinary measure of selling off some of its assets to raise more than R200 000 to pay an Imbali man who won a civil case for being wrongfully arrested.

Phumlani Eric Ngongoma (40) in 2015 successfully sued the Minister of Police for an incident that happened five years ago when he was wrongfully arrested and assaulted by police. The Ixopo Magistrate’s Court ordered the police to pay him R125 000.

But after not receiving a cent for three years, his attorneys in May this year re-issued a warrant of execution to get the police to pay.

He is now owed R203 028,37 because the police station is liable for the original amount, plus additional interest of R23 143,84, and other small fees.

The police will be liable for a further interest of 15,5% per annum from the date of issue — May 11 — until the time it is paid.

According to a sales in execution notice, the police station will be selling off a Nissan bakkie, leather chairs, computer units, steel cabinets and desks, as well as a TV set and a fridge.

Ngongoma, who is a teacher in Donnybrook, told The Witness that he was severely assaulted in the incident, suffocated with a black bin bag and pepper-sprayed.

The incident took place in May 2013. He said police had approached him and asked for his gun. “I told them my gun was at home, locked in a safe.”

He said the three officers then informed him that they were placing him under arrest.

He said he was pinned to the ground by the officers who were trying to handcuff his hands behind his back, while he offered some resistance.

Police then punched him in the face and stomach, fracturing his ribs, he said.

“I asked why they were arresting me and they said I didn’t have a right to ask them or question their authority.”

Ngongoma said the officers put him in the back of the police van and drove to his house where he was instructed to produce his pistol.

“I gave them the gun and my licence but they proceeded to assault me saying that the gun I had given them was not mine.”

Ngongoma was kept at the Bulwer police station for three days and then appeared in court on a charge of having an unlicensed firearm.

He said the charges were withdrawn. “They [police] were called to court but did not come,” he said.

“At a later stage, in a statement submitted to court, they admitted and apologised that they had mistakenly arrested me.”

Ngongoma said the incident caused a great financial and emotional burden on him and his family.

“It was very traumatic. I was embarrassed in front of my colleagues and the pupils I taught at the time. I had to pay legal fees and my children were badly affected by this,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal SAPS did not respond to a detailed query on who approved the selling of the station’s assets, and how the station would cope without them.