Claims of torture by police

SAD: Nelisiwe Tshabalala, Amos Rathethe's sister, holding Amos's picture. Pic. Andrew Hlongwane. © Sowetan.
SAD: Nelisiwe Tshabalala, Amos Rathethe's sister, holding Amos's picture. Pic. Andrew Hlongwane. © Sowetan.

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Mpumalanga police allegedly tried to cover up their tracks following the death of a suspect they allegedly tortured for nearly 10 hours in an attempt to extract the "truth" from him.

Amos Rathethe, 39, from Jerusalem, near, Hazyview died in the police station cell after he was allegedly tortured by five policemen on Sunday night.

He and Nyiko Ngomane, 23, had been arrested for allegedly stealing about R7000 from a storeroom of the bakery they worked for in Hazyview.

Butterfield Bakery's assistant manager, Lindiwe Msimango, is said to have hidden the money in the storeroom instead of the safe.

The CCTV cameras in the shop are said to show Rathethe and Ngomane entering the storeroom but do not show them stealing the money.

Msimango is reported to have gone to a local sangoma who allegedly linked the two to the theft .

She is said to have then confronted Rathethe and Ngomane over the missing money. But they denied stealing any money. She then called on Ngomane's mother, Nomsa Ngomane.

"She told me that my son and his colleague had stolen the money," said Ngomane's mother on Sunday. "She said a sangoma told her (Msimango) that if they denied stealing the money they would be taken to him to drink a concoction that would cause them to confess."

Msimango then laid theft charges against the two at the Hazyview police station and they were arrested.

Five policemen allegedly took the two suspects into an office and asked Rathethe if he had ever watched a movie in his life.

Interviewed on Sunday Nyiko said: "The policemen put a plastic bag over my head, handcuffed my arms, put a stick between my elbows and knees in a strategic way that turned me into something like a zombie and beat the hell out of me.

"That was the movie they wanted to show Rathethe,"

Ngomane alleged he was suspended in the air while hanging to a stick that was placed between two tables and was made to rotate in the air.

"Rathethe became very scared and even cried out loud begging the police officers to have mercy on us," said Ngomane.

He alleged that seven hours later Rathethe he was treated in the same way. He said they were later thrown back in the cells. Rathethe died the following morning.

Police allegedly informed Rathethe's family that he died because he was assaulted by other inmates.

"They came up with all sorts of explanations," said Rathethe's mother Rose Masuku on Sunday.

Mpumalanga provincial police spokesman, Captain Leonard Hlathi condemned the incident. He said investigations into the matter were continuing.