08 July 2010 - 02:00
By Alfred Moselakgomoalfredm@sowetan.co.za

POLICE Minister Nathi Mthethwa's failure to pay two victims of police brutality more than R500000 has resulted in state property being attached.

Eleven computers, 12 cars (including patrolling vans and minibuses), 20 desks and 50 chairs were attached at the Kwaggafontein police station in KwaMhlanga, Mpumalanga. The value of the attached property is estimated at more than R400000.

On March 6 2006, Amos Masombuka, 60, and Peelman Mahlomuza were severely assaulted by police who accused them of stock theft.

Mahlomuza, of Zakheni near KwaMhlanga, and Masombuka from Mountain View, also in KwaMhlanga, were detained and severely beaten by police at Kwaggafontein police station.

Their lawyer, Msebenzi Masombuka, of JM Masombuka and Partners, said charges against his clients were withdrawn a week later due to lack of evidence.

"One of the accused owns goats and was accused by members of police's stock theft unit of stealing goats belonging to one Jabulani Mhlanga," Masombuka said.

"They arrested him with Mahlomuza and on their arrival at the police station, they were assaulted.

"The next day Mahlomuza was released on bail and consulted a doctor who treated him for his injuries," he said.

He said when Masombuka, who is not related to him, went to KwaMhlanga Hospital, he was referred to Witbank Hospital because his injuries were serious.

The men then filed a R1million lawsuit against Mthethwa at the Mkobola magistrate's court in Kwaggafontein, citing unlawful arrest and detention, assault and malicious prosecution.

In September last year, the court ordered the SAPS to pay them R510000 in damages, excluding their legal fees.

The money was supposed to be paid within 30 days, but the police failed to do so.

Their lawyer then successfully sought a default judgment against the minister and his staff.

A public auction will be held soon to sell off the attached items if the police fail to pay up by the end of this month.

Police spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi confirmed the attachment.

"We will certainly honour the court order," Hlathi said.

He said the victims would be paid "soon".

But he could not explain why it has taken 10 months to pay up.

Asked if the attachment was affecting operations at the station, Hlathi said: "It's business as usual.

"You can go to that police station now and you will find that those vehicles are still being used to arrest criminals and patrol the area. They have not been taken and that won't happen.

"We are in discussions with the two men and we will honour the court order by paying them what we have been instructed to pay."

The minister is "doing his best to resolve this matter", he said.