Shooting by police
16 January 2023 15:00 by Merilyn Kader
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In Ndlovu v Minister of Police and a related matter  JOL 53977 (MM), the Minister of Police failed to prove that the shooting of the first plaintiff was justifiable, while the second plaintiff failed to prove the requisite elements for a delictual claim for nervous or emotional shock.
By Merilyn Rowena Kader LLB (Unisa), Legal Editor at LexisNexis South Africa.
Personal injury/delict - Shooting by police – claim for damages: In Ndlovu v Minister of Police and a related matter  JOL 53977 (MM) the Minister of Police was sued by two plaintiffs in the wake of a shooting by a police officer. The first plaintiff claimed compensation in the form of damages, having been unlawfully shot and wounded in his leg, below his right knee. The Minister’s defence was that the police officer had acted in self-defence. The second plaintiff claimed damages for emotional shock because of witnessing the shooting of the first plaintiff, his stepfather, and having directly thereafter been ordered by a police officer to handcuff the first plaintiff.
The court held that the defendant bore the onus of proof in respect of the claim of the first plaintiff. On the facts before the court, without making a finding as to credibility of any of the witnesses, the court found that the version of the first plaintiff was more probable than that of the defendant. The defendant, therefore, failed in discharging the onus resting on the police to prove on a preponderance of probabilities that the shooting of the first plaintiff was justifiable.
A claim for nervous or emotional shock is recognised in our law where the plaintiff shows that the nervous shock is associated with a detectable psychiatric injury. However, in this case, the second plaintiff failed to prove the requisite elements to sustain a claim of delictual liability against the defendant. The second plaintiff’s claim was accordingly dismissed.
The defendant was held liable for the proven damages of the first plaintiff and was ordered to pay the first plaintiff’s costs.
Merilyn Rowena Kader
Legal Editor at LexisNexis