Bheki Cele to defend lawsuit by alleged unrest instigator Sphithiphithi Evaluator

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Sep 19, 2022


Pretoria - Police Minister Bheki Cele has filed a motion of intent to defend a lawsuit in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria filed by alleged July unrest instigator and social media commentator Sphithiphithi Evaluator.

Evaluator, whose real name is known to the Pretoria News, is suing the State and the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, for unlawful arrest and malicious prosecution after the case was thrown out of court in March following several postponements.

Evaluator and others were accused of instigating the 2021 July unrest that saw more than 400 people dying in widespread looting and the destruction of infrastructure, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The court papers, with case number 01 2070/2022, are addressed to Evaluator’s lawyer, Godrich Gardee and the registrar of the court, and titled “Notice of intent to defend”. They state that Cele would be defending the lawsuit.

The letter says in part: “Kindly take notice that it is the interest of the defendants to defend the above action.”

Speaking to the Pretoria News, Gardee said Cele and Batohi had 20 days or a month to deliver their answering affidavits to the court.

The 37-year-old businesswoman Evaluator says she was arrested unlawfully by the police in August last year, kept inside a dark room for two days and forced to reveal the pin codes of her electronic devices while not being given food or water.

She had approached the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria through Gardee to have Cele and Batohi pay several millions of rand.

In the detailed court papers seen by the Pretoria News, the court gave Cele and Batohi 20 days to respond or pay up.

Evaluator was arrested by 10 plain-clothed police officers at her house on the East Rand.

The papers say in part: “The police officers (who arrested her) were not in police uniform, nor had they arrived in marked police vehicles; they did not have a warrant of arrest but had a search and seizure warrant.

“They informed the plaintiff that they had come to seize all of the electronic devices in her household as they had been used to incite violence on social media (Twitter).

“They took possession of the plaintiff’s laptop, cellphones, iPad, wi-fi router and memory sticks (USBs), among others. Of the seized gadgets, some belonged to the plaintiff’s family members, including children aged 3 and 6.

“Every single gadget and device was taken from the plaintiff’s home. Of the 20 seized gadgets which were recorded in the acknowledgement of receipt document by the SAPS, only five belonged to our plaintiff. The remaining 15 belonged to other members of plaintiff’s family.”

The Pretoria News had previously reported that all her gadgets had since been returned to her.

“Plaintiff was placed in a cell at the Garsfontein police station for two nights. The cell was cold and had no light. Plaintiff was not given water and/or food for all these days.”

Pretoria News