2007-02-02 : SANDF being sued for 2005 raid on army museum

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2007-02-02 : SANDF being sued for 2005 raid on army museum

Postby GOSA » Wed, 2007-02-07 09:21

Cape Times, February 02, 2007 Edition 2

http://www.capetimes.co.za/index.php?fArticleId=3658703

JOHANNESBURG: The SA National Museum of Military History is making a civil claim against the SA National Defence Force over a raid on the museum in 2005.

Museum director Major John Keene confirmed yesterday that a claim had been made, but would not give any details.

"I don't think this matter is appropriate for public consumption," he said.

According to a report in Beeld, the claim could cost the defence force up to R3 million for unlawful arrest, detention without medical care and pain and suffering.

SANDF spokesman Colonel Petrus Motlhabane would not disclose any details, but said the matter was currently under litigation.

In January 2005, Keene and two curators, Susanne Blendulf and Richard Henry, were arrested after military intelligence and police raided the museum in Saxonwold, Johannesburg. This after receiving information that "war-capable weapons and vehicles" were being stored on the premises.

"Police and the SANDF have accused us of stockpiling weapons as if we were preparing for a war," the museum's acting director, Sandi Mackenzie, said at the time.

Three armoured cars and another military vehicle were confiscated. Motlhabane said the vehicles were seized for "police and forensic investigation".

When the arrests took place, Keene was at the Pretoria Eye Hospital undergoing surgery to his retina. "Upon hearing of the drama at the museum, he went there and was also arrested. After his arrest, he was taken to the hospital under armed guard," said Mackenzie.

The three were later released without being charged. - Sapa
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Postby GOSA » Wed, 2009-04-15 11:05

2009-03-05

http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=1 ... 264C875493


Pretoria - The director of the SA National Museum of Military History on Wednesday described his shock and anger after being arrested for alleged illegal arms possession.


The alleged unlawful arrest and detention of the museum's director, John Keene, and two of its curators, Richard Henry and Susanne Blendulf, in 2005 has resulted in the three claiming almost R1.9 million damages from the ministers of Safety and Security and Defence.


Keene lost the sight in one of his eyes and Blendulf suffered from post traumatic stress disorder allegedly as a result of the arrests.


All three were arrested, kept in "filthy" police cells overnight and only released the next day after the director of public prosecutions refused to prosecute them.


Keene, who was still recuperating from an eye operation, had to be rushed to hospital for emergency surgery, but was kept shackled to his hospital bed for most of the day.


Arts and Culture Minister Pallo Jordan and top delegates of his department, as well as the CEO of Northern Flagship Institution (under which the three national museums fall) were all present when members of the police and military police descended on the military museum in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, in January 2005.


Acting Pretoria High Court Judge L Sapire remarked that it was "extraordinary" that people of such high rank were involved.


He also remarked that the arrest, as described by Keene, was "completely bizarre".


Keene testified that he had rushed to the museum after being informed that the defence force had come to fetch their armoured vehicles.


On his arrival, he found Jordan, accompanied by the director and deputy director general of the department, on the steps.


He found one of his curators, Richard Henry, outside, who informed him he had been arrested.


A member of the military police then read Keene's rights to him before a police captain, Fanie Malapo, aggressively told Keene they were going to confiscate the museum's small arms collection because they did not have permits and their accreditation (exempting the museum from licensing) was "absolutely worthless".


Keene said the museum kept a full register of its exhibits, which had mostly been donated by the defence force, its predecessors and the police since 1942, and had also gone through a lengthy accreditation process.


The Auditor General had conducted a full audit of the museum every year until 1999, when the audits suddenly stopped without explanation.


He stressed that it was the function and duty of museums to maintain or restore its acquisitions - in this case military equipment and arms.


Keene said he found his arrest "completely unbelievable" and was very anxious, especially when he was refused access to his attorney and driven to the police station at such high speeds that he thought they were going to crash.


At the police station, he was given documents to sign and locked up in a cockroach-infested cell that "stank to high heaven" of faeces and urine.


"My wife was virtually hysterical. She said unless I had my medicine in my eye, I would go blind. She asked them to summon the district surgeon but they just ignored her.


"... I was resigned to the fact that I would probably lose my eye. I was angry, anxious, tired and in severe pain," he said.


It was only after Keene's attorney brought a doctor to see him that an ambulance was summoned and he was taken to the eye institute in the early hours of the morning for emergency surgery.


Keene testified that he had always been very proud of working at the museum, which he regarded as one of the most renowned military museums in the world.


"After the arrest I felt embarrassed and that the museum (which is also a memorial to World War II soldiers) had been desecrated," he said.


"They took four of the exhibits (armoured vehicles) away. I have no idea what happened to the vehicles.


"My staff is like a family to me. They look up to me for protection, leadership and guidance and I could do nothing to help me. It made me feel totally impotent and useless."


The matter continues. - Sapa
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Postby GOSA » Wed, 2009-04-15 11:24

http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicswe ... &sn=Detail


Govt surrenders in war museum arrest case
Moray Hathorn
11 March 2009



Minsters of defence and safety & security concede liability over
wrongful detention of Keene, Henry and Blendulf




John Keene, Richard Henry and Susanne Blendulf v The Minister of
Safety and Security and The Minister of Defence: Gauteng High Court,
Pretoria, Case No: 37587/2005


1. On 13 January 2005 a Captain Molapo of the SAPS and a
fight-sergeant Banda of the SANDF conducted an investigation at the
South African National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold which
culminated in the arrest and detention of


1.1 Mr John Keene, the director of the South African National Museum
of Military History;


1.2 Mr Richard Henry, the curator of Armoured Fighting Vehicles and of
small arms at the museum;


1.3 Ms Susanne Blendulf, curator of the Insignia, Memorial Plaques,
Postal History Collections and the Editor of the South African Journal
of Military History; allegedly on grounds that the museum was in
possession of 6 stolen armoured vehicles.


2. The function of the Museum is to collect items of military heritage
and history and to maintain these for exhibition to the public and for
educational purposes. Together with the Transvaal Museum and the
Transvaal Museum the South African National Museum of Military History
forms part of the Northern Flagship institution created in terms of
the Cultural Institutions Act No 119 of 1998. It is recognised as one
of the best museums of its type in the world.


3. Mr Keene, Mr Henry and Ms Blendulf were held overnight at the
Kameeldrift Police Station, Pretoria . Mr Keene who had had an
operation on 12 January to repair a detached retina had to undergo a
further emergency operation on 14 January 2005 in consequence of his
retina re- detaching during his detention.


On the morning of 14 January 2005 Mr Henry and Ms Blendulf were
released at the Johannesburg Magistrates' Court after being informed
by Mr Anil Singh the legal representative of the Departments of Arts
and Culture that the State Prosecutor had declined to prosecute. Mr
Keene was released later in the day after completion of his eye
operation. He had been kept shackled to his hospital bed. He suffered
further consequential damage to his eye and has lost sight in that
eye. Ms Blendulf suffered acute post traumatic stress. [For a fuller
account see here - Ed]


4. Mr Keene, Mr Henry and Ms Blendulf were represented by Advocates
Paul Pretorius SC, Michelle Augustine and John Peters, instructed by
Webber Wentzel, at the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria in an action for
damages on grounds of unlawful arrest and detention and in respect of
the consequences to the health of Mr Keene and Ms Blendulf arising
from the arrest and detention.


5. The trial commenced on 4 March 2009 before Acting Judge Sapire and
was completed on 10 March 2009. At the trial evidence was led on
behalf of the Plaintiffs. On Mr Henry's evidence it was clear that the
museum's acquisition of military vehicles and artillery pieces was
fully documented and accounted for and that the investigating officers
had been fully apprised of this during their investigation.


One of the more shocking pieces of evidence, amongst many, to emerge
at the trial was the evidence that flight sergeant Banda had on the
night of the arrest at Kameeldrift Police Station ceremoniously held
up and switched off his cell phone when Mr Keene's attorney, Mr Barry
Whitter, had asked for his cell phone number so that he could be
contactable for purposes of arranging a bail application during the
course of the night of 13 January 2005.


6. Another shocking piece of evidence which emerged was that the
entreaties of Mr Whitter that a district surgeon be summoned for the
purposes of obtaining his consent for the administration of Mr Keene's
medication by his wife who was present at the police station, was
refused.


7. In addition, Mr Keene was kept shackled to the stretcher when taken
to the Pretoria Eye Institute in the early hours of 14 January and was
kept shackled to his hospital bed before and after his emergency eye
operation. A police guard was posted in his ward to watch him.


8. At the conclusion of Mr Henry's evidence the Ministers of Safety
and Security and Defence, without leading any of their witnesses,
conceded liability and made a tender of settlement in the following
terms:


8.1 "In full and final settlement of all the claims of whatsoever
nature, by each of the Plaintiffs against the Defendants, and the
Second Defendant conceding the merits of the Plaintiffs' claims
regarding their arrest on the grounds of unlawful possession of stolen
military vehicles and artillery pieces and acknowledging that such
military property was not stolen and that the South African National
Museum of Military History acted lawfully in regard to all such
property, and without further admissions;


8.2 And that the Defendants shall pay the sum of R475 000 and party to
party costs limited to:


8.2.1 There being no attorneys fees (the attorneys performing the work
pro bono); only attorneys disbursements, including the qualifying fees
of the Plaintiffs experts, the total of such disbursements and
qualifying fees not exceeding R20 000.


8.2.2 Fees of senior and one junior counsel.


8.3 The Defendants shall pay the capital sum by 14 April 2009, failing
which the contents hereof shall be made an order of court."


9. Mr Keene, Mr Henry and Ms Blendulf accepted the offer as tendered
by the Ministers. More important to them than the financial aspect of
the settlement as agreed, was the fact that the settlement vindicates
their good names and that of the museum, establishes the unlawfulness
of their arrests and vindicates the lawfulness of their actions and
those of the museum.


10. Upon being informed of the settlement Acting Judge Sapire, made
the following comments:


10.1 In addition an apology by the Defendants to Mr Keene, Mr Henry
and Ms Blendulf would have been the proper and gentlemanly thing to
have been done;


10.2 The judge observed that too many cases were coming before the
Gauteng High Court where there is a lack of discretion in effecting
arrests by arresting officers. He stressed that the power to arrest
should be used with discretion, particularly in cases such as this,
where the Plaintiffs were palpably venerable and good public citizens.


10.3 The judge continued that there are ways of securing the
attendance of an accused person in court other than arrest. In too
many cases, before the Gauteng High Court the power of arrest is used
as a punishment in itself and not a manner to procure attendance in
court.


10.4 The judge further expressed his grave disquiet that senior
people, including the Ministers themselves, had not attended the
proceedings in order to apprise themselves at first hand of what had
happened. The judge stressed that the people in charge of the case
should have been present to see how their unilateral statements are
dealt with in court and in other cases of this nature. In that way, a
lot of public money could be saved. He wanted this message to go down
from the highest ranking members of the police to every constable.


10.5 Counsel for the Defendants stated that he had written memoranda
to the senior legal advisors of the Ministers pointing out the
shortcomings in the investigation in this case by Captain Molapo and
flight sergeant Banda. He suggested that the state attorney should
prepare a series of lectures for arresting officers by judges.


10.6 The judge stated that this case was a matter of public interest
and that the public should know what had happened in this court. He
said that he was speaking these words deliberately in public, and that
his words should be heeded.


Statement issued by Webber Wentzel, Johannesburg, March 11 2009
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