A SUSPECTED member of one of Port Elizabeth’s most notorious gangs has won his case against the police for his unlawful arrest five years ago.
Alleged Up Stand Dogs gang member Oscar Alexander, 30, of Gelvandale, is now in line for a payout of almost R300000.
He is currently in jail on an unrelated charge of murder.
The Minister of Police was ordered yesterday to pay Alexander R275000 for his unlawful arrest after a shootout at a rival gang member’s tavern in 2009.
He has been arrested at least five times in the past for cases ranging from fraud to murder, but the charges were withdrawn every time because the witnesses were allegedly too scared to testify against him.
Alexander said in the Port Elizabeth High Court yesterday that he had been arrested without a warrant and detained for three months despite insufficient evidence against him.
He had been arrested in February 2009 after a shootout at a tavern in Windvogel.
It was alleged at the time that Alexander and his co-accused, including self-proclaimed “reformed” Up Stand Dogs senior member Rodwell “Boef” Peters, hijacked an Omega cab in Terblanche Street, Gelvandale, and drove to the tavern where they opened fire.
A woman parked in a MercedesBenz outside the club was caught in the crossfire and nearly died.
Alexander, Peters, 30, and their two co-accused were charged with attempted murder and hijacking. But after three months in custody and numerous failed bail attempts, the state declined to prosecute Alexander.
Charges were also withdrawn later against his co-accused.
In November that year, the Minister of Police was slapped with a letter of demand.
Lawyer Danie Gouws, who represented Alexander at the time, said Alexander had only been brought before court four days after his arrest, and was denied bail each time he applied. By law, a person must appear in court 48 hours after being arrested.
“My client remained in custody and was repeatedly brought before court where his applications for bail were denied,” Gouws said.
Alexander demanded R300000 in damages. After negotiations failed, civil proceedings were instituted in the Port Elizabeth High Court by Colin de Villiers, of De Villiers & Partners, instructed by Advocate Jean Nepgen.
Alexander said the arresting officers had found him guilty by association and had arrested him simply because his friends had committed a crime.
After the state conceded the merits of the claim yesterday, an out-of-court settlement was reached and later made an order of court. The minister was given 21 days to pay the R275000.
Alexander has been in custody since June last year following a botched house robbery in Seaview in which alleged accomplice Allen de Souza, 28, was killed in a shootout with armed response.
It is alleged that Alexander, Peters, and alleged fellow gang member Cedric “Ella” Johnson, 24, then bribed a police officer at Kabega Park, where they were being held, to release Johnson from custody so he could execute the Seaview home owner who was meant to testify against them.
They all face charges of housebreaking with the intention to rob and robbery, kidnapping, possession of a firearm, and murder, as well as additional charges of conspiracy to murder and corruption.
In Alexander’s bail application in July, investigating officer Captain Mike Grobler said Alexander had grown up in gang life and survived on an income from the drug trade. He also sold stolen goods and was involved in armed robberies. The case is due back in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Alexander has been arrested several times previously.
In May 2006, he was arrested for fraud, in January 2007 for attempted murder, and in July 2008 for theft. All the cases were later withdrawn.