Taxi boss sues police for R100 million

Businessman and taxi boss Siyabonga Getsemane has made a R100 million damages claim against police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Supplied

Businessman and taxi boss Siyabonga Getsemane has made a R100 million damages claim against police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 22, 2024


Durban — A prominent Durban taxi boss who said he and his 11 bodyguards were wrongfully and maliciously arrested, detained, and had images of his arrest circulated on social media is suing the police for R100 million.

He also said Police Minister Bheki Cele defamed him on national TV by inferring that he was a construction “mafia” operative.

Two senior police officers are included as respondents in the matter.

SAPS spokesperson Themba Lirandzu said: “We are aware of this claim and the ministry will be defending the matter.”

The deadline for their response in the matter, which has been lodged with the Pietermaritzburg High Court, is this week.

Taxi boss Siyabonga Thomas Getsemane, who has various other business interests, lodged his damages claim last month.

Getsemane and the others were arrested as they tried to exit the Qala Quarry in Inanda on November 3 by a large group of police officers believed to be from a special task force.

At the time of their arrests, they were apparently told that they were attempting to forcibly take over the quarry and therefore trespassing and intimidation charges would be brought against them. Cash to the value of R137 000, cellphones, a laptop, firearms and other valuables were seized at the scene.

Getsemane was apparently told that he would also be charged with fraud because he produced a document indicating that a key shareholder from the Qadi Tribal Council, the quarry’s owners, had given him permission to be on site.

However, all 12 men were released on November 6 when they were due to appear in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court. The prosecutorial team on duty, after assessing the merits of the allegations against them, refused to enrol the matter.

Getsemane’s version was that their presence at the site was justified because the shareholder in question had engaged him to manage the quarry.

He was there on November 3 on a reconnaissance mission to familiarise himself with operations at the quarry, as his work at the site was due to begin shortly thereafter.

He attended with his bodyguards and they signed the attendance register on arrival.

Police pointed firearms at them as they attempted to leave. They were arrested and detained at the Inanda branch’s holding cells.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele. | FILE

While in detention, Getsemane’s attorney, Sbu Dlamini, called the shareholder to confirm that he had issued the letter of authority, but this did not satisfy the police, who refused to release him.

In their particulars of claim, the applicants said their arrests were unlawful and done with “malice, improper motive, and intent to defame” because Getsemane was a well-known businessman.

They said the money and other valuables were not connected to the arrests but police took the items anyway.

The applicants said they were manhandled and interrogated by the police, kept in “unhygienic conditions”, and held for four days before being released.

“Embarrassing photos” of the arrests were circulated on social media and Cele, while speaking on the Dr JJ Tabane show, allegedly referred to Getsemane as a “mafia”.

Not only were they deprived of their liberty, but they “suffered pain, mental anguish, trauma and loss of dignity”, the applicants said.

Getsemane claimed R1m compensation for his unlawful arrest and detention, R49m for pain, mental anguish and trauma, and R50m for embarrassment, humiliation and loss of dignity.

The other 11 claimed R200 000 for their arrests and detention, R150 000 for pain, anguish and trauma and R150 000 for embarrassment, humiliation and loss of dignity.

Sunday Tribune