Man shot in the penis by police to get R2 million compensation: Port Elizabeth High court rules


A man who became impotent after a police officer shot him at close range in the penis during the violent arrest of his brother, has been awarded R2m in damages by the Port Elizabeth High Court.

The amount was offered as a settlement by the ministry of police and made an order of court earlier this week after a drawn-out legal battle.

The eventual settlement is likely to be closer to R3m because the police must also pay interest of 10.25% a year, backdated to 2013, as well as legal costs.

The 32-year-old man now walks using a crutch.

Following the shooting on July 22 2013, he tried to commit suicide by taking an overdose of his mother’s antidepressants and she now hides the medication from him.

He refuses to go to the clinic to seek help for his depression.

In a heartbreaking account of how his life changed, he told a psychologist of how his dream of having a family was shattered and how his girlfriend of five years had left him after he was injured.

The victim’s attorney, Wilma Espag van der Bank, asked that he not be named to protect his privacy.

He was shot during the arrest of his brother on a rape charge.

During the chaotic arrest, the police brought the rape complainant with them in the early hours of the morning to identify the suspect.

The police woke both men up at their home in KwaNobuhle in Uitenhage.

The victim described to the court how a police officer pointed a firearm at his chest and started pushing him using the firearm, which then went off, hitting him in the penis.

The bullet exited through his scrotum and also broke his right leg, according to a medical report.

The claimant worked part time as a manual labourer before the shooting but has been battling to hold down a job since because of pain in his leg.

In October 2016, the Port Elizabeth High Court found in favour of the police and dismissed his damages claim.

This finding was subsequently overturned by the full bench of the Eastern Cape High Court in Makhanda, in November 2017.

The settlement was finalised in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Wednesday.

According to a judgment by judge Dayalin Chetty, writing on behalf of a full bench of the appeal court, the police initially claimed that the man came at them with a knife.

Chetty dismissed these claims as a fabrication. No knife was ever found on the scene.

Ian Meyer, a clinical psychologist who assessed the man for purposes of his court case, added in a report to the judge that the victim was embarrassed about the deformity caused to his penis by the gunshot.

After he was taken to Livingstone Hospital, the man was kept handcuffed to his bed and under police guard for nine days.

Medical reports filed before court described his injuries as follows: “He was shot through the penis with an exit wound in the scrotum. The bullet then broke his thigh bone.”

Urologist Dr Pierre Cronje said in a report to the court that while the man’s injuries had healed, he remains impotent.

Cronje said it is possible that the psychological trauma he suffered contributed to his erectile dysfunction and that his injuries would have a significant impact on his sex life.

Meyer wrote in his report that the man suffered significant humiliation after being shot in the penis and that he was self-conscious and embarrassed by the “unsightly physical deformity” caused by the gunshot.

“He no longer wears short trousers because he is self-conscious of his scarring.

“Covering his scars helps him to avoid the curiosity of others and he attempts to avoid telling people that he was injured by the SAPS, lest they conclude that he is a gangster.

“He is also apprehensive that if people were to see his scarring, it would lead them to the same conclusion,” Meyer wrote.

Since he was shot, according to papers before court, the man started drinking heavily as “it helps him to forget for a short while”. According to Meyer’s report, the man “would shake all over” if he saw a policeman and even seeing images of the police on television would trigger a stress response and make him leave the room.

He reported a similar response to hearing someone knock on the door late at night.

Meyer said the man had turned to alcohol and pain killers for the management of his pain “both emotional and physical”.

He said the man told him he always expected to “have a wife and a family” but that this was no longer possible.

His girlfriend of five years left him after he was injured.

Meyer said that the man could benefit from treatment by a sexologist but that his prognosis was poor.

“He predominantly focuses from moment to moment on his experience of pain and how he is going to cope.

“He struggles to cope with certain activities of daily living and he has become socially withdrawn, spending most of his time at home where he predominantly lies on the couch to gain relief from his pain which has affected his self-esteem, drive and enthusiasm.”

In a heartbreaking account of how his life changed, he told a psychologist of how his dream of having a family was shattered and how his girlfriend of five years had left him after he was injured.

– Weekend Post

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