Pretoria - The two men accused of killing North West businessman, Wandile Bozwana, have told the court they were assaulted and coerced into signing confessions.
The two men walked into the Kgosi Mampuru II Prison Court wearing black jackets and sat in the dock listening attentively as their lawyer, Advocate Victor Nkhwashu, told the magistrate of the assault they had allegedly endured at the hands of police.
Nkhwashu added that he had not been able to consult with his clients, Sipho Dludla and Matamela Mutapu, as they couldn't locate them. He said Dludla and Mutapu told him about the torture on Wednesday morning before their court appearance.
"They have informed me they were forced to sign confessions. These confessions were not signed freely. They were assaulted and their faces were covered in a tube and suffocated. They then signed the confessions. They were also forced to go point out scenes against their will," he said.
The magistrate asked if the pair required medical attention but both of them declined. They told their lawyer it was not necessary.
"Accused one had pain in the chest... but it has now subsided because he used to get pain medication from his cell mate. Accused two also had pain in the back that has also subsided. At this stage they don’t feel the need to go to the hospital," said Nkhwashu.
Not applying for bail
Prosecutor Desai Luphondo said the men could lay criminal charges against the officers and they would investigate the claims. Nkhwashu said they would not be applying for bail. They both confirmed they did not want bail.
The media was given strict instructions not to publish images of the two as that might jeopardise the ongoing investigation.
Bozwana died in hospital after being ambushed in what is believed to be a hit while he was a passenger in a yellow Renault Clio earlier in October.
Police said the Clio driven by Bozwana’s female companion was stationary at the traffic light on the N1 Garsfontein off-ramp when a BMW M3 pulled up next to them. A man jumped out and started pumping a hail of bullets at the businessman. He jumped back into the BMW, which sped off.
The 43-year-old Bozwana was hit by at least nine bullets. His companion, who was hit by two, survived the attack.
When arrested, the men were found in possession of semi-automatic and automatic rifles as well as ammunition. They were also charged for being in possession of a suspected stolen vehicle.
Stolen vehicle and jammers
They were also found in possession of jammers and were charged for contravening the Electronic Communications Act, which makes the possession of the unlicensed devices illegal.
They faced charges of murder, attempted murder, and possession of a stolen vehicle.
The matter was postponed to February 17 for further investigation.
Meanwhile, the Bozwana family has issued a statement regarding media reports relating to the case. The family distanced itself from the reports and said the police should be allowed to carry out their investigations.
"The family has however noted with regret a number of media statements regarding the case and wish to distance ourselves from such utterances.
"This is still an ongoing murder investigation and we believe that it is best we allow the professional investigation teams to do their work without any interference from any person or group whatsoever," the family said in a statement.
The family also congratulated police for the work they have done.