2007-02-08 : Woman assaulted: metro cops to pay up

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2007-02-08 : Woman assaulted: metro cops to pay up

Postby GOSA » Tue, 2007-02-20 17:03


Woman assaulted: metro cops to pay up
Zelda Venter
February 08 2007 at 10:42AM

The Tshwane Metro Council and four Metro police officers have agreed to pay damages to a Centurion woman who was assaulted by four Metro officers nearly five years ago.

Ronel Pitout, 39, initially claimed more than R500 000 in the Pretoria High Court from the council as well as from Metro officers Johannes Yssel, Pieter Oberholzer, Jakob van der Walt and Michelle de Swart. The matter was settled on Wednesday before it was due to go on trial.

It is believed the woman will receive about R50 000.

In terms of the settlement agreement, which was made an order of court, the defendants will pay the money on or before March 15 as a final settlement in the matter.

Pitout's nightmare started at about 7pm on April 15 2002 when she was driving in Station Avenue, Centurion. She said that she was stopped by Yssel, who tried to pull her car door open.

She said he shouted and swore at her and, in a threatening manner, ordered her to get out of the car. He was wearing civilian clothes. She said she insisted on driving to the nearby Lyttelton police
station as she feared for her safety.

She drove off and went up Botha Avenue in order to get to the police station. She claimed Yssel then tried to force her car off the road.

Pitout said that when she stopped at a robot in Botha Avenue, Yssel stopped next to her and threatened to shoot her. Her car was blocked off a short distance further by a police motorcycle, which smashed into her car. According to her, De Swart threatened to "bash her head in" with a baton, while Oberholzer pulled her out of her car.

She said he used so much force that she landed on the road, from where she was pulled up and pushed against her car. Van der Walt, she said, held her hands behind her back, while De Swart pulled her head backwards by her hair.

Pitout said this happened as members of the public looked on. "They kept on shouting and belittling me and told me I was a f***ing bitch." She said they threatened to bash her "f***ing head in" and told her they were going to throw her in the back of a police van.

"One said someone must bring the cuffs because they were going to make an example of me."

She was taken to the police station while the threats and shouting continued. She was locked up for more than an hour with a male suspect and was eventually freed on bail after the metro officers left.

She said the metro cops maliciously instituted charges against her, which the State later withdrew.

Pitout said she suffered several injuries as well as emotional shock due to her experience. She had to receive medical treatment and was in pain for a long time.

Although the matter was settled, the defendants in court papers denied any wrongdoing. They claimed they acted within the scope of their duty because Pitout did not stop at a stop street, refused to abide by the instructions of a traffic official, refused to produce her driver's licence and drove off after being told to stop.

The four officials in question were convicted in the Pretoria magistrate's court of assault. They were sentenced to three months' imprisonment or a R3 000 fine each. The Metro Police at the time said an internal investigation would be launched into the matter.

o This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on February 08, 2007
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