'He was suffocated': Mihalik murder accused allegedly tortured by cops

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Sizwe Biyela, Nathi Khumalo and Vuyile Maliti. (Photo: Jaco Marais)
Sizwe Biyela, Nathi Khumalo and Vuyile Maliti. (Photo: Jaco Marais)
  • One of the men accused of killing lawyer Pete Mihalik alleges that he was tortured into signing a 12-page admission document. 
  • He was allegedly suffocated with a plastic bag and a branch was broken on his head. 
  • He alleged that the late Anti-Gang Unit detective Charl Kinnear was present in one instance.

One of the three men accused of murdering lawyer Pete Mihalik claimed he was suffocated with a plastic bag, hit with a tree branch, and that his head was pushed under bath water until he signed an admission statement that was not read to him.

The trial resumed in the Western Cape High Court on Monday, with these allegations revisited in more detail.  

Accused 2, Nkosinathi Khumalo, fired his lawyer in June as he was about to go into the allegations that he was tortured into signing a 12-page admission statement on the same day Mihalik was shot dead.

His new lawyer Pieter Nel told the court that he would not only continue with the torture allegations, but would expand on them.

According to Khumalo, he was tortured three times on 30 October 2018, after Mihalik was gunned down while taking his kids to school in Green Point, Cape Town.

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Mihalik was killed just after 07:30 and Khumalo ended up at the Sea Point police station shortly after that in a sequence of events which started with him allegedly driving away from law enforcement, who had stopped two cars for skipping a stop street.

This serendipitous development gave the police their first breakthrough after they had gathered CCTV footage of the vehicles involved in the shooting on the corner of Cavalcade and Thornhill roads.

Khumalo, Sizwe Biyela and Vuyile Mini are on trial for murder, two counts of attempted murder relating to Mihalik's son also being hit, possibly by a fragment from the bullet that killed his father, and Mihalik's daughter being in the car with them. They also face charges relating to unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

He alleged the first torture occurred at around 09:00 at the Green Point police station, where he was handcuffed, and three police officers in civilian clothes punched and slapped his face and used their arms to choke him. 

"He was suffocated with a yellow plastic bag," alleged Nel. 

The second was allegedly around 11:00 on the same day in Khayelitsha, where about seven uniformed officers punched and beat him in the yard of a house, and broke a tree branch on his head, while he was handcuffed. 

'He was so afraid to be assaulted again'

The last was between 19:00 and 20:00 on 30 October at a house. He was allegedly slapped, and his head was pushed into a bath filled with water until he could not breathe. He claims that six police officers in plain clothes were involved, and that the late Anti-Gang Unit detective Charl Kinnear was present in one instance.

In the first two instances, there was no investigating officer or interpreter present. 

Khumalo alleged that, after that, Kinnear made him sign a statement without reading it to him. He said he had refused to say anything, other than that he was not involved in Mihalik's murder.

"The only reason he signed was that he was so afraid to be assaulted again," Nel said on behalf of Khumalo. 

A complication regarding the allegations is that Kinnear was assassinated on 18 September 2020 and can't defend himself against the allegations.

So, the State will rely on sections of the Criminal Procedure Act, and the Hearsay Act, to confirm the credibility of the admission statement. 

The trial continues with testimony from Hawks' Sergeant Simon Hlatshaneni, also in the Anti-Gang Unit, who was sworn in to testify on how he became involved in the investigation. 

Hlatshaneni is multi-lingual - with isiHlubi, isiXhosa, isiZulu and Sesotho under his belt - and Kinnear phoned him on 31 October to ask him to help him with questioning on 1 November. 

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