Family rejects suicide line

Ntwaagae Seleka

Ntwaagae Seleka

The family of a man who died in a Vaal police cell say he was murdered in custody.

Dorah Pete, 74, said her son Jan Mbele, 41, was arrested on October 28 while walking in a Bophelong township street.

"I heard about my son's arrest when three officers came to my house on October 29, saying he had committed suicide in their custody," said a sobbing Pete.

She said the police told her Mbele was arrested for armed robbery.

"The police did not inform me when they arrested my son," she said. "The only time I came to hear that he was arrested was when they arrived to tell me he had committed suicide by hanging himself with his T-shirt.

"At the police station I found it strange that my son could have hanged himself from the window. It was so low that it was impossible for him to have hanged himself," Pete said.

Pete said she found bloodstains in the holding cell, which the police said came from her son's nose when he died.

At the government mortuary in Johannesburg she found wounds on her son's face.

Solly Mbele, 49, said he was shocked when he saw his brother at the mortuary.

"From the way he looked, he was assaulted before he died. His face was swollen and he had wounds and bruises as if he had been kicked or hit with a hard object all over his body."

Police spokesman Captain Veli Mcera said a postmortem had found Mbele had committed suicide. He will be buried tomorrow.