Court rules for police after violent protest

The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed a claim against the police lodged by the family of a young boy who was shot and wounded seven years ago.

In a ruling delivered on Thursday, Judge FDJ Brand held that the police did no wrong in using live bullets to disperse a rowdy crowd in Gansbaai near Hermanus in the Western Cape in 2002.

The court’s ruling arose out of a complaint filed by Dolora Petersen—the mother of the boy—who was wounded. The boy, Justin Petersen was shot on July 19 2002.

According to court papers, the shots had been fired by a policeman acting in the course of his employment as a public servant.
On the day when the boy was shot, a group of young men and women engaged police in a stone throwing battle after the officers attempted to seize at least 20 bags of illegally harvested perlemoen in Blompark.

The officers came upon a Nissan bakkie with a trailer while on patrol. The vehicle was packed with 20 transparent bags containing shelled perlemoen. When the police tried to seize it the rowdy group of 200 people started to stone the officers.

The officers—part of the operation Neptune—a task team formed to stamp out poaching, fired rubber bullets in retaliation. The officers only resorted to using live bullets after they ran out rubber bullets, witnesses told the court.

The upshot of the judge’s reasoning given on Thursday is that a situation of necessity automatically bars any kind of re-compensation.

The judge also found the evidence given by Justin Petersen to be unsatisfactory.

Brand found that Petersen, in the process of trying to disassociate himself from the rowdy crowd ended up denying the fact that the crowd stoned the policemen.

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