Oudtshoorn man to sue police over arrest in Hong Kong

John Harvey

AN Oudtshoorn man is taking legal action against the Hong Kong police after allegedly being wrongfully accused of smuggling chemicals into China for use in explosives, assaulted by police and unlawfully held in “inhumane” conditions in a maximum security prison for more than two months.

Private security company worker Pierre du Toit, 41, says he was placed in a 3m x 2m cell for 17 days after he was forced to defend himself during a riot that broke out at Hong Kong’s infamous Lai Chi Kok prison.

Du Toit said since the case against him was dismissed in November last year he had lost his job with his security company in the Philippines, been forced to take anti-depressants and lost a number of teeth due to grinding them down out of anxiety.

He has sought the counsel of Cape Town lawyer Dirk Kotze, who has been liaising with Hong Kong attorneys to assist with the case.

Du Toit, a martial arts fan, said he had visited Hong Kong on May 6 last year, where he hoped to see attractions like the city’s famous Bruce Lee statue.

Soon after he arrived a group of eight to 12 armed men broke down the door to his guest house. They allegedly went through his luggage and took his wallet and passport.

He said he was then taken to a prison, where he realised the men were police.He was interrogated for 24 hours but because they spoke Cantonese he did not know what he was being charged with.

Du Toit said he repeatedly asked to speak to the South African embassy but this was allegedly denied. A few days later he made his first court appearance, with three Israelis. “The authorities said I had organised them to bring chemicals used for explosives into the country. I had never seen them in my life.”

For the next 10 weeks he was forced to endure “terrible” conditions at Lai Chi Kok prison, as he went back and forth to court. He was finally released but placed under house arrest until his case was finalised and eventually dismissed.

Kotze said he believed Du Toit had a strong case. Department of International Relations spokesman Clayson Monyela said he was not aware of Du Toit’s arrest.

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