Mmegi Online :: Former inmate wins damages for assault, torture
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Friday 08 December 2017, 17:25 pm.
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Former inmate wins damages for assault, torture

The Court of Appeal has upheld an award of P30,000 in damages granted by the High Court in favour of former prisoner, Ishmael Olekile who sued the Commissioner of Prisons after a jailhouse assault by prison officials.
By Goitsemodimo Kaelo Tue 26 Apr 2016, 15:27 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Online :: Former inmate wins damages for assault, torture








Olekile had originally sought P1.2 million citing torture, assault and stripping of his dignity during an attack by prison guards at Molepolole prison in 2012. The High Court ruled in his favour last year, limiting the award to P30,000 plus interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum from the day of judgment until full payment is made.

However, Commissioner of Prisons, Silas Motlalekgosi appealed the case to the Court of Appeal, asking for a reversal. In his appeal, Motlalekgosi, through Boineelo Mosweu of the Attorney General, pleaded with the CoA to set aside the judgment of the trial court, and that the judgment be entered in favour of the appellant and dismiss the action with costs.

The appellant also prayed that if the trial court judgment was not set aside, the award of P30,000 be reduced to an amount suiting the injuries of a reddish eye and inflated ear, which he said, were treated with painkillers.

Dismissing the application, all three justices Isaac Lesetedi, Monametsi Gaongalelwe and Tshepo Motswagole were in agreement that the trial court was correct in its judgment to award a defenceless Olekile P30,000 after he was found to have haemorrhages, which he suffered in the veins of the eyes and the internal ear after prison officials assaulted him.

“At the hearing of the appeal, no authority or legal principle

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was brought to our attention showing that the figure of P30,000 awarded by the court below was either wrong in law or excessive in any circumstance,” reads the judgment. The justices stated that the appellate court did not interfere with an assessment of general damages by the trial court and was slow to interfere with the discretion of the trial judge on such damages. They said that it is the discretion of the trial judge to determine the quantum damages.

The court also considered that the appellant failed to show that the respondent sustained his injuries in any innocent or lawful manner when he was under prison custody and control.

“The bare denial of the assault left the unlawfulness of the assault and the natural flow of consequent damages unanswered.”

Thy said that the out-patient medical cards provided by Olekile as evidence that he sustained injuries due to the assault were correctly before the court as they had proper record of what was contained therein and dismissed the appellant’s argument that they were hearsay and cannot be sustained.  The justices found no errors in the High Court judgment in accepting Olekile’s evidence during the trial. They said that the failure by the prison officials to investigate the cause of injuries suffered by the prisoner once they became aware is highly improbable.

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