Court orders police minister to pay Xulu man R2.6m after unlawful 813-day detention Ntokozo Patrick Xulu, a resident of Gauteng, found himself in a life-threatening situation when he was attacked by two assailants just after he arrived home from work. His home is located in a notoriously dangerous neighborhood opposite Berea Park in the Johannesburg CBD. One of the attackers jumped into the back seat of his car and threatened him with a knife, while the other, identified as Mr. Rodriguez, approached his window.
Trapped inside his car, Xulu fired two warning shots in the air to repel his attackers. The first assailant fled after the warning shots, but Mr. Rodriguez reached for something in the front of his belt, which Xulu presumed to be a gun. Feeling threatened, Xulu fired in the direction of Mr. Rodriguez, wounding him. Mr. Rodriguez subsequently died from his injuries.
Xulu was on his way to report the incident at the Hillbrow police station when he was arrested by an officer who had been informed by onlookers that the shooter had fled the scene in a maroon car. Despite Xulu showing the officer his gun and explaining that he had shot someone in self-defense, he was arrested.
Unlawful Detention and Trial
Xulu was charged with murder and kept in custody for 813 days starting from November 2018. He claimed that he repeatedly told the police that he had acted in self-defense and that they failed to inform the prosecution that he was a victim of an attempted robbery. However, the prosecution, being kept in the dark by the police about Xulu’s defense, charged him and persisted with the prosecution.
During his murder trial, Xulu’s version of events was accepted. The ballistics report confirmed that the bullet’s trajectory was consistent with someone sitting down and shooting at someone at a higher angle. After spending more than two years in prison waiting for his day in court, Xulu was acquitted.
Court orders police minister to pay Xulu man R2.6m
The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg found that Xulu’s prosecution was unlawful. In a scathing judgment, Judge Irene de Vos stated that Xulu’s detention had destroyed his personal life. She criticized the police for failing to provide protection to Xulu as a victim of an attempted robbery and instead detaining him as a criminal.
Judge de Vos highlighted the trauma caused by Xulu’s detention, stating that it had compounded his trauma, led to him losing his earning capacity and family, and destroyed his personal life. His wife moved on with her life, and he could no longer be a father to his children in the way he was before.
The court found that although Xulu had disclosed his self-defense to the police, they failed to disclose it to the prosecution, which was a breach of their public duty. As a result of this unlawful detention and prosecution, Xulu was awarded R2.6 million in damages.