Social media darling slaps outgoing Police Minister Bheki Cele slapped with a R10 million lawsuit


South Africa's Police Minister, Bheki Cele, finds himself ensnared in a hefty legal battle as influential social media commentator, Sphithiphithi Evaluator, files a jaw-dropping R10 million lawsuit against him. The lawsuit stems from an alleged unlawful arrest during the tumultuous 2021 insurrection case that rocked the nation.

Sphithiphithi Evaluator (name withheld at her request for safety reasons), became the sole female arrested and charged with instigation during the height of the unrest. Accused of orchestrating public mayhem through her social media presence, she was apprehended at her Ekurhuleni residence in August 2021, an event that unfolded in front of her young children.

Claiming a violation of her rights, Sphithiphithi Evaluator recounted the harrowing experience of being confronted by ten plain-clothed police officers who barged into her home without a warrant. This invasive intrusion resulted in the confiscation of numerous electronic devices, including her children's cellphones and laptops, leaving her family traumatized.

The arrest was allegedly triggered by Sphithiphithi Evaluator's critical stance towards President Cyril Ramaphosa and her defense of former President Jacob Zuma, who had been convicted of contempt of court at the time. Her social media handle, Sphithiphithi Evaluator @_Africansoil, became a platform for expressing dissenting opinions, which apparently caught the attention of certain individuals in high places.

However, in a surprising twist, the case against Sphithiphithi Evaluator was ultimately struck off by the magistrate on March 30, 2022. The court vehemently criticized the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for what was deemed an abuse of power and malicious prosecution. Despite the dismissal of charges, the influencer believes that justice has not been served.

Seeking recourse and accountability, Sphithiphithi Evaluator has embarked on a legal crusade against Bheki Cele, alongside other key figures involved in her arrest. Major-General Ebrahim Kadwa, the provincial head of the Hawks in Gauteng, and the NPA are also named in the lawsuit. The influencer alleges significant damage inflicted upon her family, asserting that Cele defamed her character and collaborated with external entities to target and persecute her.

In an exclusive interview with The Star, Sphithiphithi Evaluator expressed her unwavering determination to fight for justice and hold all those involved accountable for the ordeal. She firmly believes that her constitutional rights were violated and that the government, under the auspices of the ANC, has regressed from the hard-won gains of the anti-apartheid struggle. Furthermore, she intends to report specific state individuals to international human rights organizations, a move that could potentially escalate the case to a global stage.

While The Star reached out to Bheki Cele's spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, for comment on the pending lawsuit, no response has been received at the time of this publication. Similarly, queries directed to Hawks spokesperson Colonel Katlego Mogale and NPA regional spokesperson Gauteng Local Division Phindi Mjonondwane have remained unanswered, leaving many questions unanswered.

It is worth noting that the South African Police Service faces numerous legal claims each year, ranging from allegations of unlawful arrests to unlawful detentions. In fact, according to a report earlier this year, the police paid out a staggering amount between R259 million and R541 million in settlements between 2018 and 2023. These figures underscore the ongoing challenges faced by the justice system in upholding individual rights and providing redress for those wronged.

As the legal battle unfolds, the nation awaits the outcome with bated breath. Will Sphithiphithi Evaluator's pursuit of justice lead to a landmark decision that safeguards the rights of citizens against alleged abuses of power? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain—the case against Bheki Cele has ignited a fiery debate around the boundaries of free speech, the role of social media, and the responsibility of those in positions of authority.

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