Nigerian dies during police raid

2011-01-24 16:23
Johannesburg - A Nigerian man died during questioning by police during a weekend drug raid in Johannesburg, an SA police spokesperson said on Monday.

The property reportedly belongs to the wife of Henry Okah, who is in custody for alleged involvement in a bombing in Nigeria last year.

Police spokesperson Warrant Officer Lorraine van Emmerik said she could not confirm who owned the property, but could say that police raided it on Saturday.

"It was a drug raid. Crime Intelligence got information and went to the premises. They searched and found an unlicensed firearm, drugs and ammunition," said Van Emmerik.

A suspect ran away and was caught and taken back to the premises.

"During questioning he had a shortage of breath and he died," she said.

She could not confirm a report by Associated Press that the property was owned by Azuka Okah, Henry Okah's wife.

AP reported that Mrs Okah said witnesses told her police searched one apartment on Saturday and handcuffed tenant Joseph Uzo, allegedly beat him with metal pots and pans and dunked his head in water.

Police brought Uzo to a second apartment, allegedly smothering him with a plastic bag and assaulting the girlfriend of the second tenant, she said, according to the report.

"We can't confirm that. That is why the [Independent Complaints Directorate] is investigating," said Van Emmerik.

She said the man had been identified as coming from Lagos.

ICD spokesperson Tiyani Sambo confirmed that they were investigating and that a post mortem was being conducted.

"The person who died was not shot by the police so we are investigating the circumstances around his death," said Sambo.

The results of a post mortem could be available later on Monday, he said.
They were still collecting witness statements and were in the primary stages of the investigation.

The ICD investigates complaints against the police, and deaths during police operations.

Okah was denied bail in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court late last year.
He faces charges of terrorism, relating to the October 1 twin car bombing in Abuja, Nigeria which killed 12 people and injured 36.
- SAPA
Read more on:    icd  |  police  |  henry okah  |  johannesburg  |  narcotics
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