The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) is investigating a case of death in police custody after a 27-year-old man’s death at the Bellville police station on Sunday night.
According to Ipid spokesperson Grace Langa, the man was allegedly arrested for assault and was left alone in one of the police offices with his left arm cuffed against the burglar door at the Bellville station.
“The police allegedly left him to go look for a second suspect for the same assault case and on their return they found him hanged against the same burglar door with his body in a kneeling position. It is alleged that he used a cord to commit suicide as his right arm was not cuffed,” said Langa.
Ipid attended the scene until about 9am on Monday and the ambulance arrived and confirmed him dead when they arrived.
“Ipid as an investigating body will not be having a position at this stage about what could have transpired. The police officers involved have rights, the deceased family have the right of knowing what happened to their son. The community and civil society have every right to know what happened but unfortunately Ipid does not have the answers yet, we appeal for calmness, patience as well as space to conduct our investigations with integrity, transparency and fairness. Putting pressure to investigators will compromise the case which will deny the deceased and family justice they deserve.”
ANC calls for probe into Bellville incident
The ANC in the Western Cape Legislature is demanding answers following the death of the man at the Bellville station, identified as Wayne Thomas.
ANC MPL Mesuli Kama visited Thomas’ family on Monday and slammed the police’s conduct as “reprehensible” and “utterly shocking”.
“It is scandalous that our citizens are treated in this manner in democratic South Africa,” said Kama.
“There are far too many unanswered questions. We’re calling for a full investigation. A thorough post mortem must be held to establish the cause of death because the police say it’s suicide and that he hanged himself. But this happened at the charge office. How does a person kill himself at the charge office? The police also denied the family access to the body. They were lied to as they were told the body was already at the mortuary when in fact the body was still at the police station. Words cannot adequately express our outrage.”