‘Cops killed my brother,’ says man

2010-01-07 00:00

THE brother of a taxi driver from Waaihoek near Ladysmith, who died in police custody, believes his brother was murdered.

Zamukuhle Thungo said that when his diabetic brother, Magundwane Thungo, allegedly jumped out of the moving police minibus, he was not hand-cuffed. He said the officers who arrested him were the same men from Ulundi who broke his arm last month, demanding guns.

After that incident, both parties laid charges against each other.

The Witness reported yesterday that Magundwane died on his way to Ezakheni police station, after he was allegedly caught with an AK47 assault rifle. Police said he forced his way to the door and jumped out of the moving vehicle.

Zamukuhle said the police’s explanation left more questions than answers. He said the police arres­ted his brother at the Ezakheni court while he was there to release another brother on bail.

A short while later, they phoned the family telling them he had died and that they had found an AK47 at his place in Waaihoek.

“It doesn’t add up because [between] the time they had left with him from court to his place and the time they phoned us is a very short one for them to be where my bro­ther lay dead,” Zamukuhle said.

When asked why he was not handcuffed, the police said his wrists were too big for the handcuffs.

“They had broken his arm last month, and now we believe they have tortured him by pulling a rubber tube over his head. He could not have survived that suffocation because he was diabetic,” he said.

The lawyer of the deceased has advised that a private doctor should perform a postmortem on the body.

Station commanders of both Ezakheni and Ladysmith police station were said to have gone to the mortuary to see if it was true that the handcuffs could not fit the wrists of the deceased.

When contacted to confirm this, Ladysmith station commissioner director Mandlenkosi Chirwa declined to comment, referring the query to the provincial office.

Provincial police spokeswoman Director Phindile Radebe said for a person to be or not be hand-cuffed depends on the circumstances at the time of arrest.

She said in certain circumstan­ces police officers use their discretion when handling suspects.

She had no further comment.

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