Statistics have proven that police brutality is a prevalent occurrence within South Africa. Many victims are not aware that assault claims against the police may result in compensation for the victims or their families. To protect your rights or to assist others in the protection of their rights, it is useful to know when and how to claim for injuries sustained due to police brutality.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are assaulted or threatened to be assaulted, you should prioritize your own safety. It would be wise not to provoke, attack or participate in further violence regardless of the situation or the unfair treatment that you are suffering at that time. After any assault, it is important to first seek medical assistance as the delay will cause difficulty to prove that the injuries sustained were due to the police assault. To support your claim against the police, you need to record the following:
- Date, time, and place that the assault took place;
- Names and identification numbers of the assaulting police officers;
- Contact details of any witnesses;
- Medical reports, X-rays, and results of any medical test;
- Statements of medical staff in respect of your condition at the time of the reported incident;
- Photographs of any visible injuries; and
- Proof of payments of medical costs or all other costs incurred due to the assault.
Your claim may result in compensation for medical costs, and emotional and psychological harm as a direct result of the assault. You can claim for loss of income if the extent of the injuries caused you to be unable to work for a period. You may also claim pain and suffering. Families of the victims may claim loss of support if the assault resulted in the death of the family’s breadwinner.
The Institution of Legal Proceedings Against Certain Organs of State Act 2002 requires the claimant who wishes to proceed against an organ of state to give notice to that entity within six months from the date on which the debt became due, setting out the facts giving rise to the debt and any particulars of the debt that are within the knowledge of the claimant. If they do not do so, the court may grant an application for condonation if it is satisfied that:
- the debt has not been extinguished by prescription;
- good cause exists for the failure of the creditor to comply with the notice requirements; and
- the organ of state was not unreasonably prejudiced by that failure, for instance, the event was not previously reported to it and any witnesses are no longer available.
All three of the requirements for condonation must be established by the party requesting the condonation.
If you suffered a personal injury due to a police assault, do not hesitate to contact us to assist you with your claim.