Acquitted Ndudula sues state for R20m
She wants compensation for wrongful arrest and deprivation of liberty
Bulelwa Ndudula, found not guilty of murdering her politician husband Sakhekile Ndudula last month after a trial that made headlines, is now suing the state for R20m.
Ndudula was arrested in September 2016, a few days after her husband was gunned down in a hail of bullets at their Cambridge West home in East London.
She was denied bail for over two months until a successful appeal in the Grahamstown High Court.
Ndudula was acquitted on October 8 in a judgment that lashed the prosecution for its “frivolous, vexatious and irresponsible” case. “I find myself quite incapable of comprehending why the damning ballistic evidence of Captain [Lulamile] Kamteni was withheld from this court throughout the state’s case,” wrote judge Igna Stretch.
“Indeed, it may well have remained undetected altogether, but for this court having expressed concerns about it…
“Indeed…I find it difficult to comprehend why the accused was prosecuted on the grounds set forth in the state’s indictment, or at all for that matter.”
Now, officially a free woman, the primary school teacher has accused the state of wrongful arrest and malicious prosecution.
Her legal team, led by defence advocate Mike Maseti, this week confirmed that they were suing both the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for a combined R20m.
Maseti said his client was suing the police for R10m – R5m for wrongful arrest and deprivation of liberty, and the other R5m for the embarrassment, degradation and humiliation she endured as a result of her arrest.
Maseti said his client was suing the NPA for an additional R10m for malicious prosecution.
On Tuesday he confirmed that the summons had been served to the NPA and police.
NPA spokesman Tsepo Ndwalaza on Tuesday confirmed receiving a letter of complaint from Maseti, and said it had been sent the provincial headquarters in Makhanda.
“[We have] requested a full report from the prosecutors involved,” he said. “We are awaiting the said reports and recommendations by acting head advocate Selvan Gounden.
“Once the reports are received, the appropriate steps, if any, will be taken against the prosecutor(s).
“As for the claims, we can state clearly that this office is not aware of any claim made for malicious prosecution and has not been served with any notice in this regard.”
Provincial police spokesman Captain Khaya Tonjeni refused to be drawn into commenting on the matter.
“The Eastern Cape SAPS cannot confirm or deny receiving such communication, but when our office actually receives such a letter, the communication will be dealt with like any other similar or related matter,” was all Tonjeni would say.
In the summons, Maseti says Ndudula’s arrest “brought shame and embarrassment” as it was executed in front of her neighbours, friends, villagers who knew her and even some former students.
She was arrested on September 30 2016 at her husband’s home village of Sigubudwini in Tsomo by the Cambridge detectives investigating Sakhekile’s killing. Maseti says police performed gunpowder residue tests on her without explaining any of the rights she had, “including the purpose of such an examination”.
“[Police] handcuffed the plaintiff in her mourning garb, an arrest which brought shame and embarrassment to her.
“She was detained in a police cell that was filthy with human excrement all over, a broken toilet which was full of faeces to the brim, and was given a thin mat to lie on together with a filthy, smelly blanket that was full of lice.”
He said Ndudula complained about the matter, but “her inhumane and degrading detention circumstances were not entertained, let alone that the plaintiff was not removed and placed into a humane detention facility”.
Maseti further wrote in the summons that Ndudula had been denied bail after police investigators “had lied” about the presence of two witnesses who had apparently heard the couple arguing moments before the shooting, and about the fact that “at least two 9mm pistols were used in the murder of the deceased”.
He said such information was “purposefully withheld” from the court, resulting in his client being “wrongfully denied bail”.
“Her arrest was unnecessary, bullish, wrongful and unfair. It drew public interest, leading to some parents of learners [at the primary school where she teaches] to feel that it was not safe for their kids to be taught by a teacher facing murder charges.
“She felt embarrassed and humiliated by such arrest, while she also endured embarrassment of being removed from her school and placed at a district office, an environment she was not accustomed to.” Ndudula claims the state opposed her bail with “malicious intent”.
She says “the prosecutor dealing with the opposition of bail allowed a police investigator to lead evidence that he knew was false, malicious and devoid of truth without making an attempt to state the truth as it manifestly appeared in the police docket that the prosecutor had”.
Maseti said as a result, the defence and court could not ask questions that could have contradicted the version of the state and as a result bail was denied...