×

We've got news for you.

Register on Sunday Times at no cost to receive newsletters, read exclusive articles & more.
Register now

He would give his golden eye teeth for some justice

News

He would give his golden eye teeth for some justice

R200m claim against cops after malicious arrest has dragged on for 15 years, leaving former tycoon broken

Logan Govender

In his heyday as a property magnate and scrap metal dealer, Gerhard  Kruger drove a Porsche 930 Turbo and a De Tomaso Pantera and wined and dined at the best food outlets.
But now he says he is in such dire straits that he has removed two of his four gold teeth with pliers and sold them  for cash.
Kruger says it has taken more than 15 years for him  to prove in the Durban High Court that he was maliciously arrested, charged and detained for eight days at Westville Prison in May 2002.
The charges relating to the theft of copper cables, and the possession of more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, an AK47 and a grenade, were withdrawn in the Durban Magistrate’s Court about a year after he was arrested by police officers from outside KwaZulu-Natal.In the Durban High Court in December 2016 Judge Graham Lopes  ruled that the Minister of Police and the Minister of Justice were liable for more than R200-million in damages claimed by Kruger. The ministers denied that they had acted maliciously or wrongfully, or that Kruger’s constitutional rights were violated.
But a year has come and gone since the liability aspect was concluded. The trial to determine what amount Kruger should be awarded was initially set for March but has been adjourned to July.
“Before I was maliciously prosecuted I led a luxurious life. I  used to own luxurious and fast cars.  I miss the days of tucking into grilled prawns, prawn curry and other seafood. My eight-bedroom home in Hillcrest and other properties  were auctioned. I ended up being homeless more than 15 years ago and recall drinking water from fire hoses to beat the thirst,’’ said Kruger. 
“I relied on the goodwill of generous people for food, clothes and other essentials. I am not in the best of health and suffered two heart attacks and a stroke. I was a benefactor of  various orphanages in Durban. The collapse of my business meant that I was unable to continue donating money, clothing and other items on a monthly basis to the orphanages.”
Judge Lopes ruled that police officers had wrongfully inferred that Kruger was involved in the theft of copper and cables when they raided Kruger’s company All Metals cc in Balfour Road, Durban. The police had done so without a search warrant and were accompanied by TV cameramen and newspaper journalists.The court concluded that it was satisfied with Kruger’s substantiated version that he had stored the copper and cables at his premises on behalf of a Mr Human, the then head of the Durban Metropolitan Investigations Department.
It emerged in evidence that Human had discovered the materials at another company which he was investigating and had asked Kruger to keep the materials at his premises.
The judge apportioned the blame for the wrongful arrest to the police officers under the control of the Minister of Police, and the wrongful detention at Westville Prison to the Minister of Justice.
The ministers denied that they were liable for the damages sought by Kruger.
It also emerged in Judge Lopes’s  judgment  that a magistrate at the Durban Magistrate’s Court had blundered by overruling the state’s submission that Kruger be granted bail, and by incorrectly recording that Kruger had a grenade and an AK47 at his premises.
An actuarial report  showed that five of Kruger’s properties had a book value of R42.2-million in 2002.
The forced sale of the properties, which came about because  Kruger was unable to service the bonds, raised R2.8-million.
Kruger is seeking R500,000 for unlawful and wrongful detention, R5-million for deprivation of freedom, and the same amounts for emotional damages and general damages.
With interest over the past 15 years the damages claim total is over R200-million.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times Daily subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times Daily content.

Sunday Times Daily

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.

Next Article

Previous Article