Top cop 'tortured' for 30 hours in cell

INHUMAN:  Cornelius Pettit
INHUMAN: Cornelius Pettit

THIRTY hours of alleged torture in a filthy Pretoria holding cell could see one of Port Elizabeth's top detectives quit after 26 years on the force.

Lawyers for Hawks Captain Cornelius Pettit, who has been behind some of the biggest criminal busts in Eastern Cape, said this week he had been treated in such an inhumane manner that he no longer wanted to be associated with the South African police.

Pettit, 45, was arrested while working undercover in Pretoria earlier this month. He and his informant were meeting suspected illegal gold dealers in Sunnyside when Pretoria police swooped.

While he and his informant were detained, the police let the real suspects go.

Pettit's lawyer, Alwyn Griebenow, alleges that during Pettit's detention the police brutally assaulted him, refused to feed him and stole almost R20000 he had in his possession.

Pettit, who was recently commended by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa for refusing a R2-million bribe in a drug bust, has since received medical treatment for injuries to his arms. He has been booked off work and is seeking psychiatric treatment.

Sunnyside police also allegedly told the 20 other detainees in Pettit's cell that he was a police officer, which placed his life in danger.

According to Griebenow, when Pettit pleaded with his arresting officer to contact his unit commander in Port Elizabeth to clear up the situation, the officer refused and instead subjected him to more abuse.

Sunnyside police and Mthethwa's office did not respond. - Kathryn Kimberley