- Minister of Police and NDPP v Mr Ranshaw Bagley, Case no: CA 18/2020, dated 11 May 2021, High Court Makhanda (Grahamstown) (ECG)
Picture the following scenario:
Mr Ranshaw Bagley (hereinafter referred to as “Ranshaw”), who is a member of the South African Police Service (“the SAPS”) (rank unknown), is minding his own business on a Saturday morning at his house in MT Croix in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth).
At about noon on that particular Saturday 6 April 2013, Ranshaw’s younger brother Ryan arrived and asked Ranshaw to help him test the speakers of the motor vehicle he was driving. One of Ranshaw’s neighbours approached them and complained about the noise from his brother’s car radio (noise pollution complaint [Afrikaans: “geraasbesoedelingsklagte”]). The radio was then switched off.
A very short while thereafter a SAPS motor vehicle pulled up in front of Ranshaw’s house with two policemen, namely Sgt Jela and Const Mqokozo.
An altercation (Afrikaans: “woordetwis”) ensued between all those present, including Ranshaw’s wife, as well as another group of police officials who arrived as a backup. Pepper spray was also used during this altercation but it is not clear who was responsible for the spraying. Eventually, Ranshaw is arrested.
At his first appearance in the magistrates’ court on Monday 8 April 2013, he was released on bail. In due course, Ranshaw was absolved (Afrikaans: “vrygespreek”) during a disciplinary hearing. He and his brother Ryan were also, likewise, both acquitted during a criminal trial.
Civil trial before the regional court in Gqeberha - Ranshaw’s claims for damages
Picture now the following scenario:
Ranshaw, being a SAPS member, claims damages (Afrikaans: “skadevergoeding”) from his employer, namely the Minister of Police! There were three claims namely -
Claim 1: Ranshaw sues the Minister of Police for wrongful and unlawful assault;
Claim 2: Ranshaw sues for malicious, alternatively, wrongful and unlawful arrest; and
Claim 3: Ranshaw sues the Minister of Police and the National Director of Public Prosecutions (“the NDPP”) for wrongful, false and malicious prosecution.