Suspect quizzed by cops in death plunge

Frank Maponya

Shoppers in the town centre of Polokwane were shocked by a lunch-time tragedy when a man being interrogated by the police jumped from the fourth floor of a building to his death.

The man, a car theft suspect, threw himself out of a window of the five-storey building that houses the police station at about 1pm.

Police said the man had been held for questioning in connection with the theft of cars in Polokwane.

Spokesman for the Polokwane police, Inspector Lesiba Ramoshaba, said the man was arrested yesterday after police investigations had linked him to the thefts.

Ramoshaba said, however, that during the questioning they had discovered that the man was mentally unstable.

This was because the man had repeatedly given contradicting statements, including those about his residential address.

"At some stage the man identified himself as a Mr Shai from GaMametja village outside Tzaneen. He later changed and said he was coming from Schonoord in Sekhukhune, claiming he was a teacher there," said Ramoshaba.

The questioning had taken place on the fifth floor of the building. The man escaped to the fourth floor unnoticed.

There he allegedly broke a window and threw himself out.

When Sowetan arrived at the scene, the man's lifeless body was lying on the ground and he was bleeding from the mouth.

Ramoshaba said they had called paramedics, who certified the man dead when they arrived.

He said they had also informed the Independent Complaints Directorate, an independent body that investigates the activities of law enforcement officers.

"As the police, we have opened an inquest docket and are currently busy with investigations," Ramoshaba said.

The dead man's correct identity and age had not yet been established by last night.