Three Mitchell’s Plain imams who were wrongfully arrested in January this year following an altercation with an alleged conman were acquitted of all charges against them last week. The three imams, Erefaan Martin, Shahied Lackay and Faried Hendricks, was arrested after confronting the man who allegedly scammed community members in various areas out of thousands of rands through a fake housing project. They spent five weeks behind bars, until they were released on bail in early February. But now, the three clerics will be taking legal action of their own following their acquittal.
Their attorney Eric Louw said they made representations to the director of public prosecutions for the withdrawal of the criminal charges.
“We wrote to the director of public prosecutions and we attached various collateral documentation and information we obtained, in our investigation from various witnesses and people who were present on the day in question,” said Louw.
Louw said there were certain allegations made against them as well as “frivolous” criminal charges laid which includes assault, indecent assault, pointing of a fire arm, intimidation as well as impersonating a police officer amongst various other charges.
The people who had witnessed the matter came forward and submitted affidavits and these were then attached to formal representations which were done in writing to the director of public prosecutions.
Louw added that the information was analyzed by the department of public prosecutions and in light of the information that was provided to them, the state decided to withdraw all charges against all three accused.
The three will now be claiming for damages against the minister of police for “unlawful arrest” as well as for being held in police custody for five weeks in Pollsmoor Prison, while their bail application was pending.
“Police acted unlawful…they arrested the accused without proper investigation and if police had investigated properly they would have realized that it was fabricated criminal allegations made against them and that the three should never have been arrested in the first place,” Louw said.
Furthermore, he said the person who brought about these charges is being investigated for fraud as well as other relating charges. However, the suspect has disappeared and his whereabouts are unknown.
Louw said a civil matter that will be instituted against the state and therefore the three accused will be claiming compensation.
“Liberty and freedom is highly regarded, a person cannot be detained or arrested without proper cause. They were in prison for five weeks before a proper investigation was conducted.”
Louw said that he is waiting on more information regarding their loss of earnings during the time of their imprisonment, which forms part of the damages the men will be claiming. VOC (Imogen Vollenhoven)