Cops ‘slept during cell rape’

2008-10-22 00:00

THERE was no need to put an arrested Vryheid game rancher and a farm manager into a cell already holding 14 suspects, some of them violent, thus subjecting the rancher to repeated sodomy and the manager to assaults, the Pietermaritzburg High Court was told yesterday.

Inmates sang during the assaults, presumably to drown the victim’s screams.

The incident, which took place on January 27, 2006, so traumatised Zacharia Duvenhage that he has moved to Botswana to try to forget.

Game rancher Etienne van Wyk is claiming R1,2 million from the minister of Safety and Security. Van Wyk and Duvenhage were put into the Hlobane police cells after being arrested for transporting Van Wyk’s game animals without a licence. Duvenhage was not sodomised, but was assaulted, and is claiming R350 000.

The minister is contesting their claims.

Both Van Wyk and Duvenhage have given permission for their names to be used in the media.

Their counsel, advocate Gerrie Roberts, SC, said the acting police station commander was asleep and was not woken by Van Wyk’s screams.

Van Wyk and Duvenhage were first held in a cell on their own, but three women were put into that cell and the men were moved to a cell with 14 inmates.

It was asserted that they could have been held in other cells, the magistrate’s court cells or taken to another police station.

The 14 inmates included a man charged with three murders and arson, and six charged with rape.

Roberts said that because the police station commander did not respond to Van Wyk’s screams, the inference was that he was asleep. Other policemen did not respond either.

He said the prescribed hourly inspections of the cells were not made.

The Vryheid district surgeon, Dr Senta Klingenberg, told the court that there was evidence of repeated penetration of Van Wyk, while Duvenhage had two bruises on the head and on his back.

Roberts said Van Wyk was sodomised at about 3 am by one or more inmates while others broke into song. Judge Nic van der Reyden said this is a ruse used by prisoners to mask the sound of a bar being sawn or similar.

Van Wyk managed to phone his wife, who contacted the investigating officer in their case.

The investigating officer went to the station and found the gate locked. He phoned the station’s number and heard a phone ringing in the charge office, but no one responded. He hooted, but there was no response. He finally climbed the locked gate and went into the charge office, where he found the commander, an Inspector Mtshali, asleep at 3.55 am.

He then took Van Wyk and Duvenhage to Klingenberg.

The former commander of the police station, Superintendent Isobel Weiss, told the court that when inmates sing, especially in the early hours, cells should be inspected because “something could be up”.

Roberts said that no cell inspections were carried out before the rape.

Weiss would not have put suspects charged with the type of offence allegedly perpetrated by Van Wyk and Duvenhage in a cell with violent criminals, she said.

The case continues today.

— Own Correspondent.

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