Detainee accused of brutal cell murder referred to Valkenberg

SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
SA police. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cape Town - A man accused of brutally murdering his cellmate last week has been referred to Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital for observation, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Tuesday.

Zuko Mqungquthu, 29, appeared in the Beaufort West Magistrate's Court on a charge of murder following the death of Gerdo Karelse, who was killed in the holding cells of the local police station in the early hours of Monday, July 27.

The 18-year-old man was found with severe facial wounds, reportedly lying naked behind the cell door with his lips missing and his teeth scattered around him.

READ: Teen's 'lips missing, teeth knocked out' in fatal holding cells attack

Western Cape NPA spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said Mqungquthu had been showing signs of erratic behaviour, resulting in the referral to Valkenberg.

Mqungquthu and Karelse had shared a cell after the teenager was arrested on Sunday around 16:00 and charged with assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, as well as malicious damage to property.

His body was found in his bloodied cell at 06:15 the next morning.

Mqungquthu had been arrested for domestic violence the previous Friday.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is investigating the conduct of the police and whether the mandatory hourly checks were done in the time leading up to Karelse’s death.

The case was postponed to August 5.

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