MAN DEMANDS E5m FROM GOVT FOR WRONGFUL ARREST
HE allegedly spent three years in jail without trial after being suspected of car theft related charges, caught Tuberculosis (TB) while in custody, he is now suing government, demanding a sum of E5 million as compensation.
Celani Shabangu, who is claiming these funds for unlawful arrest, is also claiming amongst others loss of earnings, future earnings, medical expenses, defamation and contumelia.
Yesterday, he was led in evidence by his lawyer, senior lawyer Sabelo Masuku before Judge Mumcy Dlamini.
The total amount claimed by Shabangu is E5 164 200 which covers all the above claims as broken down in his particulars of claim.
Led in evidence by Masuku, Shabangu told the court that he was at his rented flat at Mobeni South in Mbabane in December 1999 when one of his acquaintances came to him and asked for a E400 loan which he did not have.
Shabangu told the Court that he advised Wellman Langa (acquaintance) and one Nyoni that the person who could give them the money was Nhlanhla Dlamini, and he led them to him where they left a video camera and a car radio as surety.
After having left, Shabangu said he was visited by members of the Royal Eswatini Police Service (REPS) from Manzini under the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) who asked him about the video camera and car radio and in turn led them to Nhlanhla’s place but could not find him.
He alleged that the police advised him to come to the Manzini police station when he had got hold of Nhlanhla, who resided in Matsapha and hand over the two items. Indeed the following day, he alleged that he got hold of him and took the items to the police station.
“The following day the police came to my place and asked me to lead them to Nhlanhla’s place in Matsapha, but along the way we drove past Matsapha straight to the police station, where they arrested and formally charged me with the offence of car theft arguing that I was concealing both Langa and Nhlanhla’s whereabouts,” he submitted.
Shabangu told the court that since his arrest in 1999, he had been appearing for remand, until March 2003 on his date of trial, where he was approached by the investigating officers who wanted to make him an accomplice witness in the matter.
“I refused to be made a witness and informed the officers that I was ready for my trial as I had come for same and proceeded to appear before Principal Magistrate Selby Gama, who after hearing my case acquitted and discharged me on car theft charges,” Shabangu told the court. He said he is suing the police for the time he lost while in jail and being allegedly infected with TB while in custody.
Meanwhile, Nhlanhla Dlamini from the Attorney General’s office, who was representing government, put it to Shabangu during cross examination that the police will come and give evidence to the effect that he informed them that he (Shabangu) had sold the car radio and video camera when interrogated. The matter was postponed to the next session of the High Court in 2019 for continuation of trial as Dlamini is to parade witnesses.