The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating a case of death in police custody after a detainee died at a police station in Cape Town.
On Sunday night, the 27-year-old man was arrested for assault. He was left alone in an office at a police station in Bellville, with his left arm cuffed to the security bars at the door.
The officers allegedly left him alone while they searched for a second suspect and when they returned, they found him dead. It appeared that he committed suicide, IPID spokesperson Grace Langa said.
But, in a statement, the ANC in the Western Cape legislature demanded a thorough investigation, adding that it was “outraged by the death”.
ANC MPL Mesuli Kama slammed the police’s conduct “as reprehensible and utterly shocking”.
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“There are far too many unanswered questions. We’re calling for a full investigation. A thorough post mortem must be held to establish the cause of death because the police say it’s suicide… But this happened at the charge office. How does a person kill himself at the charge office?”
The Kama alleged that the police delayed informing the family of the death and that pathology and forensic services officials only arrived on the scene hours later.
The incident allegedly took place about 20:45. According to Langa, IPID attended the scene until about 09:00 the following day, and the ambulance arrived and confirmed the man’s death at that time.
“IPID, as an investigating body, will not be having a position at this stage about what could have transpired. The police officers involved have rights; the deceased family has the right of knowing what happened to their son. The community and civil society have every right to know what happened, but unfortunately, IPID does not have the answers yet. We appeal for calmness, patience, as well as space to conduct our investigations with integrity, transparency, and fairness,” Langa said.