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Parties urge probe into 566 deaths

POLITICAL parties yesterday called for a swift investigation into the deaths of 566 people at the hands of police in the current year.

The call comes after the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) revealed yesterday that out of this overall national figure, 16 of those killed by police were innocent people.

The parties also urged police chief General Bheki Cele to suspend the 15 KwaZulu-Natal police officers facing murder charges for the death of Nhlanhla Lala Luthuli from Hammersdale in Mpumalanga.

Luthuli died after an alleged assault by the police on October 29. The officers claimed they had gone to his house to search for a gun. When they could not find it, they allegedly assaulted him in front of his 11-year-old son and girlfriend until he was unconscious.

He was then loaded into a police van and dumped alongside a road and left to die. He died on his way to hospital.

ICD spokesperson Moses Dlamini said: "Thirteen of the people were caught in the crossfire. Nine of them were killed in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape accounted for three deaths, Gauteng, North West, Free State and Mpumalanga accounted for one death each."

Dlamini said they had been able to secure eight convictions for culpable homicide.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa said: "General Cele should immediately suspend the officers. What they did is barbaric. Suspending them without pay will send out a strong message to the other officers that such behaviour is not acceptable."

DA provincial community safety spokesperson Sizwe Mchunu said it was entirely inappropriate that the KwaZulu-Natal policemen, who form part of the Pinetown crime intelligence unit and Inanda tactical response team, had not been suspended.

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