South Africa’s Minister of Police Nathi Nhleko has been ordered to pay a Johannesburg mother, Thandeka Duma for wrongful arrest and detention.
The Soweto woman sued Nhleko and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba for R500000 after she was arrested for fraud and locked up in prison for nine days in October 2010.
Thandeka Duma lost her identity in 2004, and got them replaced in 2008. So, in October 2010, she was called into a chain store which she was unknowingly indebted to for R10000.
The police officer who arrested her failed to check the authenticity of her replacement ID with the Home Affairs Department.
Unknown to the security officer, Duma and another woman, who lives in KwaZulu-Natal, shared the same identity number and name, Judge Annali Basson said.
Speaking further in her ruling, Judge Basson said the other woman, had under oath, “bizarrely” stated she had two identity numbers and that she preferred to use the one she shared with Duma in Soweto.
Sowetan Live reports that according to Home Affairs records, Duma from KwaZulu-Natal was born in June 1973, but based on the identity number she shares with Duma from Soweto, she was born in December 1973.
Basson in her judgment said: “when the identity document of Duma from KwaZulu-Natal is read together with her declaration of birth [birth certificate], it is patently clear that her birth date and her identity number recorded in her identity book are incorrect.”
She disclosed that Home Affairs Department had admitted to the bungle, but it was unclear how the mistake had occurred. “What is clear from the evidence is that [Home Affairs] was aware of the duplication of identity numbers at the time of the arrest.”
Judge Basson asserted that Duma of Soweto would not have been arrested if police had checked with Home Affairs officials.
She subsequently exonerated the department although she found Home Affairs negligent in issuing Duma from KwaZulu-Natal with the same identity number as Duma of Soweto.
However, she postulated that it was “inconceivable” that Home Affairs officials could have foreseen that police would, eight years later, arrest Thandeka Duma of Soweto for identity fraud even though no such fraud occurred.
Meanwhile, police ministry spokesman Musa Zondi said they would study the judgment.