Family arrested after relative dies

File Photo
File Photo

Six members of a Tembisa family were arrested after they allegedly tampered with a scene of crime after their relative was found dead.

They apparently washed and moved Mzwakhe Julius Mashele's body after they discovered it in the house. They also cleaned his room before police arrived.

Mashele's sister Sthembile Mashele, 30, who was among the six members arrested, said they did not know that they were supposed to wait for the police to arrive.

"We saw him covered in blood and we cleaned him. It was painful to see him like that. We only realised when we were washing him that he had a gunshot wound. It was then that we thought of calling the police."

Police spokesman Captain Manyadza Ralidzhivha said they were investigating a case of defeating the ends of justice after they arrested the six. "We're still investigating to ascertain what really transpired," he said.

The incident happened in the early hours of Saturday morning at the township's Seotloana Section.

Sthembile said the family had last seen Mashele, 28, on Thursday. "We thought he had visited a friend because his room was locked.

My younger brother later discovered his body. He discovered his body when he opened the bedroom door. His body was covered in a blanket," she said.

Sthembile said they then cleaned his body and moved it, leading to her four brothers, her mother and herself being arrested.

"Police harassed us and called us names. They said we removed the evidence, but we did not know that. They asked for a gun that was used to kill him but we did not know where it was. They then arrested all of us," she said.

However, Ralidzhivha said they did not receive any complaints from the family. " If there are any allegations against the police, the family must come forward," he said.

Sthembile said her brother left a suicide note. "The note read: 'Dear mom. I am sorry that I killed myself. Please give all my things to my younger brother. I hope God forgives me'."

Ralidzhivha said the note was taken by the police as part of investigations. He also added that the deceased had a gunshot wound to the head and police could not find the gun on the scene.

He said they were investigating an additional charge of murder and had not arrested anyone for that.

Sthembile said her brother had suffered from meningitis for three years. "I do not understand why he would kill himself now when he has recovered.

"My mother was supposed to be sitting on the mattress mourning her child but she was locked up.

"We were supposed to be preparing for the funeral but we were running up and down in court," she said.

Sthembile was released with her brothers Thabo Mashele and Josiah Mashele on Sunday after being arrested on Saturday.

Their mother, Elsie Mashele, sons Linda Mashele and Kingane Mashele, were kept in custody. They were only released on Monday.

Mashele's brother Thabo, 34, said he was devastated.

"They arrested and assaulted us, forcing us to tell them where the gun that was used was, but we did not find any gun in the house. What is happening to us is painful."

Mashele's cousin Thembi Mashinini said she was angry.

"I hate this whole thing. My aunt spent the weekend in the cells and she's sick. Instead of mourning her child they're adding to her depression. I'm hurt. Why did they have to arrest them?" asked Thembi.

However, Ralidzhivha said a "crime scene must be left as it is until the police arrive and do their work". - ratsatsip@sowetan.co.za

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