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Tshepo’s Story

Wrongly Imprisoned

I was sitting at home watching the television one afternoon when the Police arrived. They arrested me and I spent the first night in the holding cells of the Police Station.

It is very hard for me to describe how I felt at that time, but I was shocked and deeply offended and spent that night wondering what was happening and why I was in such a horrible place. My wife, Katleho, had been arrested earlier but it had nothing to do with me.

She was owed money by a friend. Eventually, after a very long time of waiting, she realised her friend was not going to pay her. She had lent the money in good faith to help her friend out of a mess and on the understanding that it would be quickly repaid. My wife has a big heart but sometimes she takes matters into her own hands. She knew that her friend would not pay her back so she removed some items from her friend’s house – the combined value of which amounted to the money owed to her. She decided she would hold these items to ransom until the friend paid back the money she had borrowed.

What Katleho did was not criminal – it just wasn’t lawful. Anyway, when the friend got back to her house and realised some items were missing; it wasn’t hard to put two and two together. She notified the Police and shortly thereafter, Katleho was arrested and put into the holding cells of the same Police Station. Shortly after that they came and got me and I still don’t know why.

Of course both the wife and I had our initial Hearing but, because our affording any bail was out of the question. We were dispatched to Diepsloot Prison and incarcerated there. If I thought the holding cells were bad I was in for a big surprise. This was a real prison with serious criminals.

I was really scared – and I had good reason to be so. It was there I discovered that many of the rumours you hear about what happens in prison are really true facts. Grown men are gang raped and no-one listens to their screams. The food is worse than the slops you would normally throw away. The toilets present grave hygiene problems. Sleeping brings another set of challenges and I was grateful that I have always been able to give a good account of myself in a fight.

Knowing I was innocent and sitting in that frightening place was terrifying. I got word out to a friend to contact Martin Vermaak Attorneys. I knew about him from a matter he handled for another friend of mine a while ago. 

My Attorney arranged for a Bail Application while my friends took up a collection and raised the money. Bail was set and successfully posted and my wife and I were finally released. We had spent a total of ten days in jail simply because we couldn’t afford the money for bail.

I had been unlawfully arrested – my name wasn’t even on the docket. My Attorney then commenced proceedings against the State for my false arrest and unnecessary confinement.

Without our Criminal Defence Lawyers – the right Attorney – I might still have been sitting in prison. Once he arrived, good things started to happen.