Pretoria – The main suspect in the horrendous Krugersdorp killings which shocked the country – but who was later found not to be connected to the triple murders – is entitled to damages from the police.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, found that the arrest and subsequent detention of Fabian Luff, 36, in 2016 were malicious and unlawful and solely based on lies from the SAPS.
The State will have to pay him the damages he is able to prove as a result, following his R3million claim.
Luff was in custody for nearly three months before he was cleared of any wrongdoing.
He told Acting Judge George Avvakoumides during his damages claim hearing that he had nothing to do with the killings, yet he was arrested on various charges, including three of premeditated murder.
The police arrested him on June 2 2016, for the murders of insurance brokers Anthony Scholefield and Kevin McAlphine, as well as for the killing of estate agent Hanlie Lategan.
The three were killed in May that year under similar circumstances. They were all robbed and strangled.
Luff, who was initially accused number two in the murder saga, was arrested after the first to be arrested, Christiaan Kruger, made a “confession” which implicated Luff as the killer.
Kruger, however, said he was forced by the police to make a confession, implicating Luff.
All charges were withdrawn against Luff by the prosecuting authority in August 2016.
“In my view there cannot be any question that the malicious conduct of the defendant before, during and after the plaintiff’s arrest was the sole reason for the plaintiff’s entire period of detention,” the judge said.
The State argued that Luff had abandoned his bail application shortly after his arrest and that he was thus kept in custody as his own fault, but the judge said as he faced schedule six offences – three being premeditated murder – he would never have been granted bail.
In any event, the judge said, the police told the prosecution that bail should be denied as the community was very angry at the time and baying for Luff’s blood.
The court found that if it was not for the malicious and unlawful conduct of the police in the first place which resulted in his arrest, he would have never remained in custody for three months.
The judge said the police gave false and malicious information to the prosecutor to ensure that Luff would never get bail.
They told the prosecution that they had a confession from Kruger, which implicated Luff in the killings. This, while they knew the so-called confession had been coerced from Kruger.
Judge Avvakoumides said the situation was made even worse after the police arrested the true killers while Luff was in custody, but the SAPS remained mum about this.
He said the magistrate should not have mechanically remanded the case without addressing the issue of bail.