Suspect alleges police set dog on him for no reason

2016-04-01 10:00
A police vehicle set alight. (Twitter)

A police vehicle set alight. (Twitter)

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Pietermaritzburg - A man on trial for an attempted heist at Capitec Bank in Richmond and related crimes in 2014 told a judge on Thursday that police arrested him and ordered a police dog to bite him without just cause.

Thulani Doncabe (41) of Umlazi was testifying in his defence on Thursday in connection with 23 charges including car theft, attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, and attempted murder flowing from the failed cash-in-transit robbery at Richmond’s Capitec bank on January 27, 2014.

The robbers fled empty-handed after the cash box imploded and money was stained with dye. But security guard Sicelo Phungula was shot dead and a policeman, Sergeant Thamsanqa Zondi, was also killed while pursuing suspects after the incident.

Three gang members were also killed.

The court has heard evidence from police that Doncabe and his co-accused, Siboniso Mpanza, were arrested by members of the SAPS dog unit while hiding in a sugar cane field in the Patheni area outside Richmond. A third suspect, Senzo Mtolo, was shot (allegedly after shooting at Warrant Officer Reeno Dayaram and his dog Simba) and later died of his injures.

Testifying in his defence yesterday, Doncabe denied police had found him in the sugar cane field. He told Judge Rishi Seegobin he was en route to meet a person at Ixopo at the time of his arrest. He got lost after catching a taxi to Richmond instead of Ixopo that afternoon.

Doncabe said the taxi driver dropped him off on the R56 tar road outside Richmond and told him the road led to Ixopo.

He then hitched a ride with a sugar cane truck to the Patheni turnoff, where he again alighted and waited for transport.

Whilst he was standing there Doncabe said two police vehicles approached. One of them, a “kombi” type vehicle, stopped and the policemen ordered him to get in. He did so. He was then instructed to sit on the floor and was asked his name, where he was from and where he was headed. Doncabe said he had answered all these questions. Not long afterwards the police vehicle stopped and he was ordered out.

He saw a white Hilux bakkie parked at the roadside together with the other police van, and noticed Mpanza lying on the floor near the vehicle. He was handcuffed. At the time he did not know who Mpanza was, he said.

Doncabe told the court he too was made to lie down and was handcuffed.

However he said police did not ill-treat him prior to the arrival of the dog unit.

“They [dog unit members] made the dog to bite me … they instructed me to take out a firearm and I told them I know nothing about a firearm,” said Doncabe.

He said a police dog bit him on both his thighs, his stomach and both arms.

He said the dog unit members then went away. On their return they had a third man in tow and also placed him on the ground. “I didn’t notice if he was injured. I was lying down. I was ordered not to look around,” he said.

According to Doncabe, an ambulance arrived and paramedics stripped him of his clothing and put him and the other two men into the ambulance.

Instead of driving to hospital they were taken to Richmond police station where he alleged he and Mpanza were assaulted, “kicked and beaten” with a stick. The other man (Mtolo) stayed behind in the ambulance.

During the assaults police officers told him and Mpanza that their “friend” had died and that they were “going to follow him”, he said.

Doncabe said he and Mpanza were eventually taken to hospital but claimed that nurses were instructed not to give him treatment. Instead his wounds were bandaged and he was taken back to Richmond and detained in the police cells.

Doncabe denied involvement in all the offences. The case is proceeding.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court  |  saps

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