IT has been confirmed: a taxi boss who died in police custody was severely beaten and died of internal bleeding.
Contrary to police claims that Mduduzi Gumede suffered a heart attack while in custody, the Independent Complaint Directorate yesterday said a case was imminent against the cops who had arrested him.
The ICD is a body that investigates wrongdoing by the police.
Sowetan reported yesterday that Gumede, 30, died in the Douglasdale police cells moments after he and his friend, Bongani Mguni, were arrested on suspicions of possessing car breaking tools.
Though the police had told Gumede's mother, Cybil Ngubane, that her son died of a heart attack, postmortem results revealed this week that Gumede, of Meadowlands, Soweto, bled to death.
ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini added that investigations, which included obtaining a statements from witnesses, were at an advanced stage.
"Once the suspects have been identified we will take a decision on whether to arrest or even suspend them," Dlamini said.
Mguni told Sowetan that he had accompanied Gumede to buy groceries at Fourways Mall, north of Johannesburg when the incident happened.
"Police (at the mall) found a lot a spanners in my car and started accusing us of breaking into people's cars. They took us to the cells where they started assaulting us," Mguni said.
"When Mduduzi complained they put a plastic bag over his head and accused him of knowing too much."
Mguni said said he watched helplessly as one of the officers kept on jumping on Gumede's chest.
"The officer urinated in his face after he had fainted. When Gumede would no longer wake up they called in paramedics who declared him dead on the scene.
"They then cordoned off the cell and moved Mguni to the Randburg police station - but not before stealing R800 from their wallets."
Sitting alongside her mother-in-law Gumede's wife, Given Somwahle, sobbed uncontrollably as she contemplated raising their three children alone, with the youngest being only five months old.
"Right now I hate the police. If I had courage to avenge my son's death I would do just that. The thought of my son screaming my name as he suffocated to death is killing me," Ngubane said.