A claim of R3.8m against the Minister of Police by a musician who was hit on the head by an off-duty policeman with a metal stave was turned down after a judge found that the officer acted on a frolic of his own.

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) found that as the officer was off duty at the time, his employer – the Minister – could not be held vicariously liable for his actions.

Musician Salim Ogwang was travelling in February 2016 in his hometown of Oudtshoorn, where the incident took place. A Pretoria News report says Ogwang declined to claim damages from his attacker, but chose to put the Minister on terms.

He said the Minister was liable for his damages as a result of their employer-employee relationship.

The court, however, found that there was no evidence that the policeman was on duty that night. It rather appeared that he was off duty and in his home when he heard a noise outside. The court was told that the officer was motivated in his actions by a desire to chase off the noise-makers.

Judge AJ Swanepoel said the courts had long held that where an employee committed a wrongful act while acting within the scope of his employment, the employer was liable for the damages.

But in this case the officer did not act in line with his public duty and merely wanted the people to leave.

Full Pretoria News report