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Man dies after alleged assault by Hazyview police officers

The man was allegedly assaulted in front of his wife and children. The police suspected him of possessing an illegal firearm.

The wife of a 29-year-old man, a resident of KaMajika, claimed he was beaten to death by the Hazyview police after they had accused him of possessing an illegal firearm and taken him into custody on Tuesday October 18.

Sitakele Magagula alleged she and her husband were woken by some police officers as they broke down their door at 23:00 that evening. She alleged they started to assault her husband with sticks and kicked him, demanding he should give them a gun he had, an illegal firearm, according to them.

“He kept on telling them he didn’t have a gun, but they did not listen to him. They searched the whole house, breaking most of our furniture while looking for the gun. When they couldn’t find it, they took a plastic bag and covered his head to suffocate him. When I begged them to let go of him, they kicked me in the stomach and told me to keep quiet,” she said.

Magagula alleged when the police officers realised there was no gun in the house, they took the victim with them, only to return after a few hours to ask if he was taking any chronic medicine. She said she gave them painkiller tablets and heartburn medicine, as she thought these might help him in his present condition.

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“The following morning, I thought they would release him or come back to search for a gun again, but no one called or came back to us. I then went to the Hazyview Police Station at 12:00 to enquire about him instead. I was told they were still processing his arrest and I must go back home, and that they would call me. On the same day, we heard rumours that he had died, and we asked the police about it. They denied it and told us he was still alive,” said Magagula.

She said she returned to the station on Thursday October 20 to ask for information on his whereabouts. She said she was told to call the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). She claims the police said they had referred the matter to IPID.

“The police refused to let us see him until one of the police officers told us to go and check on him at the Bushbuckridge state morgue. Upon our arrival at the morgue, the police again refused to allow us to see him, because they were still conducting a post-mortem on his body. We only managed to see him through a window to confirm if it was him. My question is why we were not informed about his death, and why did they conduct a post-mortem on him without our knowledge? They also claimed they tried to call me and came to my house, but I was at home the whole day,” she said.

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Lowvelder was referred to IPID for comment by a provincial police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala. IPID’s spokesperson, Lizzy Suping, said preliminary investigations were under way, and that they would pronounce on the outcome once these are completed.

This is a developing story, and once more information becomes available, Lowvelder will update its readers.

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