'I want to know what happened to him,' mother says after son's brutal police cell murder

(iStock)
(iStock)

Cape Town - A mother whose son was brutally killed in the holding cells of the Beaufort West police station last week says, while she wants answers to why her boy was murdered, she doesn’t know if she will be able to handle the details.

Sankies Wals told News24 on Tuesday that arranging her 18-year-old son Gerdo Karelse’s funeral had been heart-breaking.

"It hurts to do this," she said. "And the manner in which he died… I try not to think about it."

His body was found in a bloody cell last Monday. He had reportedly been lying naked behind the cell door with his lips missing and his teeth scattered around him.

Police described the scene as horrific.

Wals said it was the first time her son had been arrested.

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

Karelse had been sharing a cell with Zuko Mqungquthu, 29, after he was arrested for an assault and malicious damage to property the day before his murder.

Mqungquthu, who had been spending the weekend behind bars for domestic violence, was charged with Karelse's murder after officers found his body at 06:15 on Monday.

Wals attended court proceedings on Tuesday when Mqungquthu appeared in the local magistrate's court.

The public was not allowed to witness proceedings as Mqungquthu had apparently been aggressive, she said.

Western Cape National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila confirmed that the accused had showed signs of erratic behaviour and had been referred to Valkenberg Hospital.

Wals said she had many questions about what had happened to her son on the morning he was killed, but police had declined to give her all the details because it was too brutal.

All they would confirm to her was that his neck had been broken and that he had sustained serious head injuries.

"I want to know what happened to him, but [I don’t know if I am ready for the details] right now," she admitted.

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate was 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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