Question posted in the Criminal Law category relating to Gauteng
I require some assistance and advice on dealing with an assault. I work as an IT technician and this past week was working at a Gaming Expo. For this Expo we required internet inside the venue, so we arrange with a company to deliver this service for the duration of the event.
Before the event began we had paid the total amount in full and they came to install on the day we agreed. However that evening when the rest of the stands were still setting up, there were issues with the work they had done and the way they had done it. This prevented others from completing their work, so I phoned the company and requested somebody assist, at which point the request was refused.
During the evening (still on the same day as the initial setup) the company decided to switch the internet off and refund us our money, because of the disagreement and their unwillingness to come out and rectify their mistake. At first they did not formally notify us that they were switching the internet off, so we tried getting hold of them without success. I then made an alternate plan and we continued with our work as best we could.
The next morning when I arrived at the venue, they had sent the technician out to collect their equipment, however I refused until our money was refunded. I spoke with the same manager/person as the night before and eventually we agreed he would pay the money and send the proof of payment, upon which time we would release the equipment. This was done and we duly agreed that everything could be collected.
Up until this point the worst that had happened was a little argueing over not wanting to come out at night to resolve our issue. My director then spoke with the manager/person in a bid to resolve the issue and try to rebuild the relationship. They eventually came to an agreement and he requested that I apologise to the technician who was setting up, as he felt I had been rude to him. I told him this was no problem at all, so I went to have a talk with the technician and asked him if he felt I had been rude, to which he said yes he did feel I was a little rude. I then apologise and told him that I did not mean to be rude with him, I know he was only doing his job and my actual problem was never with him, but with his boss and I do apologise for my behaviour. He accepted the apology and we had a quick laugh and I informed my director he accepted the apology and we were all ok.
A short while later he phoned back to inform me they had agreed to continue with the work and re-setup their equipment, upon which time we would then once again pay them for the work, but only after the setup had been completed.
We all continued our work getting ready, as this was the first day of the Expo. Probably around an hour after that is when the incident happened.
I was busy connecting some of the consoles, to the internet so we could update them. All of a sudden I heard somebody asking, Is that him there?, and then somebody pulled my arm as to turn away from the console towards them. As I did there was a guy standing there and he said, Hi and his name and that he was the owner of the company. I reached out my hand to greet him and introduce myself, as I did not know we had any issues and have never met him before and also did not deal with him in this situation previously at all. He told me no he will not shake my hand and proceeded to call me a "Racist piece of sh*t human being" and grabbed me by my shirt and said he would f*ck me up and started shoving me around. At this point, the event organiser, venue operations manager, venue security had all become aware of what was happening as they were all close by. They proceeded to come over to try and seperate us. He still continued telling me he is going to f*ck me up and I am safe inside the venue, but outside he will find me and f*ck me up.
Now that was the first part, the shoving and threats - So I am looking at Simple - Assault I believe, I am just not sure how to proceed or how the process now works.
After that when we were being seperated, the people trying to get him off me were asking what was going on and he once again shouted "The problem is, this guy is a racist piece of sh*t".
So my questions would be, what course of action do I have? Defamation at the utterly false and baseless racist claims, as that for me is quite serious especially in South Africa and then also Simple Assault?
I have asked the venue for security footage, as I am hoping the cameras caught the altercation.
As mentioned there were also several witnesses. After the incident when they spoke with me they said they all at first thought it was a friend and we were messing around, because I did not react, but when he grabbed me and started shouting and cursing they realised something was happening and intervened. Some of them also mentioned he stongly smelled of alcohol, although I did not notice that during our altercation.
Please could you assist with any advise or assistance possible? It would be highly appreciated.
Apologies, I incorrectly set the location.
Answer to the Question
Hi there and thank you for your question,
I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.
Jeepers, sorry to hear about that. And I thought that IT was a safe job choice! It just goes to show you.
Yes, you are looking at normal assault, and not assault GBH (grievous bodily harm) because I do not think that his mere threats at f*cking you up are serious enough for GBH.
What you need to do is to go to the SAPS station and formally lay a complaint against the guy, and make a statement as to what happened. You would need to give SAPS the name and contact details for the witnesses who saw what happened. That will assist SAPS in their investigations!
Regarding the defamation, I think you are right. The only thing here is that you would need to sue this guy in the civil court. It is not a criminal complaint. You'd need a lawyer, and it would, unfortunately, cost you quite a lot to run a trial about it.
So I think that your best course of action (and the cheapest) is to go the SAPS criminal route, and only follow the civil defamation route if you can PROVE to a court what actual damages you have suffered as a result of him shouting that you are racist.
If you can't prove a financial figure ($$$) as to what damages you've suffered (e.g. lost contracts, etc) then a court won't order that he pays you compensation.
If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.
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Information provided by client
Thank you for your prompt response.
I am hoping that footage from the Center cameras or that the security guards will be good enough for the witnesses, as I don't really want to involve the Project and Operations Managers of the Venue/Event, as they are my peers and I do not want to inconvenience them... Although if I have to, I certainly will.
It's not really about damages with the defamation, or the assault for that matter, I just want him to realize there are consequences to his actions and that as an Owner of a business you can't just go around thinking you are superior to others around you and do and say what you feel like.
My last question would just be how long do I have to lay the complaint at the SAPS for both defamation, should I decide to go that route as well, and also the assault? Unfortunately I have been working every day since from early morning to late evenings, so have not had a chance to go as yet. This happened less than a week ago.
Information provided by client
Answer to the Question
If you tell the SAPS that there were witnesses, the SAPS will want to speak to them and take a statement, because you can imagine that some witnesses might back up your story while some might contradict your version.
The SAPS need to speak to "everyone" so that they get a fair picture of what happened. Imagine if they only interviewed the witnesses whose names you put forwards because they are your friends.
No you don't really have a choice about it. It is a SAPS decision of who to speak to.
You should lay the charge as soon as you can. If you delay, then SAPS will ask you why did you delay. Also, SAPS wants to take witness statements ASAP in case people forget exactly what they saw. People are not perfect, so taking a statement immediately really assists SAPS.
You should, if you want to proceed with the assult charges, go see SAPS tonight then.
After the complaint has been laid, SAPS will investigate the complaint and take witness statements. They will then decide whether there is enough evidence for a conviction. They will then either arrest the director, or give him a warning statement to appear in criminal court on a certain date. The docket then goes to the Court for a decision to be made: prosecute or not to prosecute.
The director will then need to appear in court, and the criminal justice system then takes over!