Suspect criminals are expected to be under the protection of the police while in custody.

It is therefore not surprising that the family of Jan Mbele in the Vaal are baffled by police reports that their son, who was arrested on October 28 on armed robbery charges, mysteriously committed suicide that same day.

What shocked them most is that the cell window from which he allegedly hanged himself was too low for him to have done so. They also established at the morgue that his face was swollen and he had injuries all over the body, suggesting he had been assaulted.

Police say a postmortem has confirmed that Mbele committed suicide.

Without casting aspersions, the authorities must launch an intensive investigation into this matter to remove any doubts of a police cover-up.