A police bungle that saw Olwethu Kulati held for four days for being in possession of half a mandrax pill will cost the taxpayer R128 000 in compensation for his ‘unlawful’ detention.

Acting Judge Mickey Mfenyana found that police should have released Kulati on bail, but instead turned a blind eye while he sat in a cell over the Easter weekend on a petty drug charge.

According to a Times Select report, lawyers for Kulati proclaimed his innocence, asking the court to rule that both the arrest and his detention were unlawful, seeking compensation of R500 000 for the ordeal.

They held that the police had no cause to arrest the teen who had merely gone into the drug den to buy vetkoek, items that were conspicuously absent when he was placed in handcuffs.

The judge ruled that the arrest itself had been lawful, but questioned what the police did after effecting the arrest.

Mfenyana found that the police had finished their investigation on the same day of the arrest and could have ensured Kulati was released, preventing ‘a further infringement of his right to liberty’.

‘There was no reason to detain the plaintiff,’ Mfenyana said.

He ordered that the state pay Kulati R128 000 for the four days he was held in custody before his release.

Full Times Select report (subscription needed)