damages claims - Abahlali baseMjondolo - Minister of Safety and Security - Durban High Court

SERI represents Abahlali baseMjondolo Chairperson Sbu Zikode and two others in a damages claim against the Minister of Police. On 12 September 2006, Sbu Zikode and Philani Zungu were arrested while they were on their way to a radio debate with the MEC for Housing, Mike Mabuyakhulu. Their vehicle was stopped and searched. When Zungu asked why he was being searched, Constable Bhangwadin, of the Sydenham Police Station, told him that “a black man is always a suspect” and started to assault him. Both Zikode and Zungu were arrested and taken to Sydenham Police Station, where they were assaulted again by Superintendent Glen Nayager. The charges against them – crimen injuria, assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest - were later dropped because the Prosecutor thought them so “trivial” as not to warrant a prosecution.

Upon hearing of Zungu and Zikode’s arrest, members of the Kennedy Road informal settlement community gathered at their community hall. They intended to march to Sydenham Police Station to demand that the two men be released. Before they could do so, the Sydenham police officers dispersed the crowd with live ammunition, tear gas and rubber bullets. A domestic worker was shot in the leg while trying to retrieve a cellphone she dropped as she was running away from the police.

SERI, together with Trudie Nichols Attorneys in Durban, is seeking compensation for damage sustained as a result of the attacks on Zikode, Zungu and Mke. The trial took place from 5-7 December in the Durban High Court. The matter was adjourned to 22 April 2013, when the Durban High Court ordered the Minister of Police to pay a total of R165 000 in damages to the three plaintiffs. The order was made by agreement. 

  • SERI and Abahlali baseMjondolo media statement (22 April 2013) here.
  • Written transcripts of the trial (5-7 December 2012): volumes 1 and 2 here and volume 3 here.