Detectives accused of torturing suspects

2008-03-11 00:00

Screams of pain, men crying and desperate wails of anguish — these are the sounds that emanate from the Loop Street Detective branch, according to a group of terrified sources, who say they have been traumatised by the sounds of alleged torture taking place there.

Sources close to the Loop Street detective branch have complained to The Witness about the alleged horror beating of suspects at the hands of the detectives.

All the sources said they could not be identified for fear of violent reprisals by those detectives who are involved.

Names of three detectives have been handed to the police by The Witness after sources claimed that they appear to be the main perpetrators of horrific acts of violence on suspects who are taken to the building for interrogation.

The sources claim that blue rubber gloves are placed over suspects’ heads before they are beaten. "It’s to muffle the sounds of their screaming, but it doesn’t help that much," said one source.

Another told The Witness that policemen stationed at the branch are themselves traumatised by the severity of the beatings, but are too afraid to voice their dissatisfaction to those higher in authority. "They are scared of victimisation and even fear that shots would be fired if they found out who had ratted on them."

One shocked woman said that a young suspect was allegedly hit with a number plate so hard that it left an imprint on his skin. "It’s horrific. It’s really grim and reduces me to tears when I hear grown men screaming and crying. Once they were torturing an old man — I wanted to walk into the room while they were beating him and take him away."

Another added that if there is a closed door at the detective branch one can be assured that there was a violent interrogation taking place behind it.

The sources said that, when challenged about the beatings, the attitude of the policemen involved is that what they do to get information from suspects has "nothing to do with the public".

Police senior superintendent Henry Budhram said the allegations will be investigated. He said detectives are assigned to investigate case dockets and arrest perpetrators as soon as possible.

"This investigation of crime entails a huge amount of administrative work, which includes scientific investigation and interrogation to a large extent. It is the responsibility of the Investigating Officer to investigate the case fully and thereafter on completion ensure that the matter goes before the court."

Budhram maintained that the SAPS is a professional organisation that respects and upholds the human rights constitutionally afforded to its citizens inclusive of those arrested and charged. He said it would not allow any diversion from its obligation; neither would it condone any transgression.

Budhram advised people who were distressed by the alleged torture to contact the station commissioner and discuss the matter further.

Dikeledi Phiri, Independent Complaints Directorate national spokeswoman, urged the sources to lay complaints with the ICD in KZN and said that their identities would be protected. She reiterated that police are not allowed to beat suspects to get information, but added that the ICD dealt with allegations of police torture on an ongoing basis.

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