Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa was yesterday ordered to pay R120000 in damages by the Pretoria magistrate's court to two men who were mauled by dogs set on them by two policemen in 2003.
Constable Shaun Deen Redelinghuys and Sergeant Riaan Dewinnaar were found guilty of brutally attacking Johannes Sambo and Aubrey Moshidi, both of KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga.
The two victims were each awarded R60000 in damages.
The two policemen, who were attached to the police dog unit in Pretoria, have since resigned.
Sambo and Moshidi were arrested on suspicion of housebreaking and theft after they were stopped by the policemen while walking in town at midnight.
The two men were driven to a secluded spot in the back of a police van, where the policemen set dogs on them in an attempt to extract the "truth" from them as to what they were doing in town at that hour.
The dogs mauled the two men, inflicting serious wounds which needed medical attention.
The charges of housebreaking against both men were later dismissed.
Pretoria magistrate Dawn Neethling said the police had overstepped their authority and that it was not necessary for them to use dogs because the suspects were not running away or had tried to resist arrest.
"These men did as they were told, including lifting their hands in the air," said Neethling.
"Whether or not they committed any crime, I can't agree with the violation of their rights," she said.
"While the money won't erase the pain I endured on that fateful night, I am glad that after such a long time justice has prevailed in the end," said Sambo.
"This judgment proves that no one in the country is above the law, and if there is anyone who still doubts that this verdict is their answer," added Moshidi.
The court also ruled that the minister pays the legal fees of the victims, who were represented by Moepi Maubane.