assaulted teen dies at cop station
MPUMALANGA police are in trouble after failing to follow standing procedures and denied two teenagers the right to medical treatment, resulting in the death of one.
The victims had been assaulted by members of the community.
The whole drama started at Kumani village near Thulamahashe when community members found the two boys allegedly stealing cigarette cartons from a shop early on Saturday morning.
A security guard at the shop called for help as soon as he realised there were people inside the building - and members of the community came in large numbers.
The mob, which was armed with sjamboks, sticks and other objects, started assaulting the two young men, Promise Mathumbu and Thabo Silaule.
The mob, however, disappeared immediately after three police officers arrived at the scene. But instead of calling for an ambulance to take the severely injured teenagers to hospital, the three officers drove them straight to Mhala police station.
They then "dumped" the youths on the floor at the entrance of the police cells.
When Sowetan arrived at the police station a while later, Mathumbu, 18, and Silaule, 19, were both alive.
Superintendent Tronk Sibuyi arrived at the station in pyjamas and reprimanded the police.
"Why did you bring such severely injured suspects to the police station? Why did you not call an ambulance and guard them in hospital?
"You even passed the Thulamahashe Health Centre on your way here. Are you not ashamed of yourselves?" Sibuyi asked the officers.
A police officer then summoned a van to take the boys to hospital.
But only Mathumbu could get into the van as Silaule was too injured to move.
All the police officers present were scared to carry Silaule into the police van as it looked obvious that he could die at any minute.
The police later came to their senses and called an ambulance, but on their arrival paramedics declared Silaule dead.
Mathumbu's mother, Busisiwe Khoza, also arrived and gave her son a tongue-lashing despite the fact that he was in great pain.
"If I knew you were going to be a criminal I would have aborted you while you were still inside me.
"Look at your friend, he is a very dead man (sic) and I wish you follow him," Khoza told her son off before bursting into tears.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson Captain Leonard Hlathi said it was wrong for police to have taken the injured suspects to the police station instead of hospital.
"Arrested people also have basic human rights, including the one to medical attention.
"If any of our members is found to have acted against the standing procedures, disciplinary measures would be taken against them," Hlathi said.