Arrested cash heist suspects claim assault at the hands of police
A group of six cash in transit robbers who were arrested in Polokwane, Limpopo sought medical attention yesterday for visible injuries they claimed they suffered in the hands of police.
The six men and a woman appeared in the Seshego Magistrate's Court on Wednesday all accused the Hawks of torture, physical assault and refusing them food.
The suspects Collen Hlongwane, 40, from Diepkloof, Nkosimphile Msimango, 40, from Delmas, Isaac Seranotswe, 41, from Etwatwa, Lethabo Nhlane, 26, from Polokwane, Howard Hlope, 33,from Kwa-Thema and Daniel Bambiso from Springs allegedly robbed a cash in transit vehicle and made off with undisclosed amount on Matlala Road in Seshego outside Polokwane on Monday.
Nhlane, a mother of two, through her lawyer told the court that she sustained injuries on a right eye after police assaulted her.
Her lawyer Pholoto Sebopela said; "My client was assaulted with an open hand on her face. She has bruises on her left eye and this happened during her arrest."
Sebopela said Nhlane needed a medical attention to treat her injuries.
Another lawyer, Lot Ramotse, representing the five men also accused the state of torturing his clients into a confession.
"My clients, all of them, have visible injuries from the hips, hands and faces. They told me that they were suffocated with a plastic bag and a wire placed around their necks as police demanded information," he said.
Bambiso claims on his social media profile that he works at the South African Air Force.
Ramotse said Hlongwane was assaulted with a sharp object on his eye and his hands were tied from his back for two days.
"He was further assaulted on the stomach and his private parts. The police's behaviour is unacceptable because all our clients were forced to make statements," he said.
Sepobela and Ramotse both wanted the court to grant them access to the police docket in order to see the written statements.
Prosecutor Disebo Kgoelenya objected the defence's request and described it to be "immature."
" The defence would only get the contents of the docket when police have completed their investigations. At the moment the request is immature," she said.
Magistrate Mikateko Mabobo granted all the suspect access to medical treatment.
"The state and defence will discuss the arrangement of the treatment at a convenient place. As for the written statements of the accused the defence will have to wait for trial to resume," she said.
Mabobo said concerning their injuries they can get treated and the medical report be placed in the docket. The case was postponed to June 12 for formal bail bail application.
The court ordered the media not to publish the photos of the suspects because it would compromise state's case.
Hawks spokesperson Captain Matimba Maluleke said the seventh suspects who was supposed to appear in court didn't because investigation with regard to his role in the robbery was underway.