Three youths who were metres away from Daveyton student leader Caiphus Nyoka when he was shot dead this week have charged that shortly after the killing a white policeman wrote "999 Lemba Street – Caiphus Nyoka executed – Hands of Death" on a police station blackboard.
The former executive member of the Transvaal Students Congress was killed in the early hours of Monday morning, the youths said, after shots were fired in the back room of his parents' house. The three youths are part-time matric student Exodus Gugulethu Nyakane, 21, of Wattville; and Excellent Mthembu, 18; and Elson Mnyakeni, 20, who attend Bonginhlanhla secondary school in Kwandebele. They had come to Daveyton to attend a funeral. Their accommodation at the Nyoka house had been arranged by the family of the deceased.
The three told Weekly Mail that four white members of the SA Police arrived at the Nyoka home early Monday morning in the company of black council policemen. The youths said police kicked open the door of the room they were sharing with Caiphus. The white policemen entered the room, brandishing torches, asking which one was Nyoka. Nyoka identified himself.
According to the youths, police then ordered them to leave the room immediately. Once outside, close to the room, they were told to lie face down on the ground. Clad only in their underpants, the three obeyed. They said they "more than two shots" being fired in the room in which Nyoka had remained behind with the policemen. The police then threw their clothes out of the room, they said, ordering them to dress quickly. They said two of them were handcuffed to each other and all three were escorted at gunpoint to a white 10-seater Toyota "Zola Budd" outside the house.
The three said they were driven to Daveyton police station in the company of white and black policemen. They said they were taken to an office in an outbuilding behind the main police station building. Fifteen minutes later, they said, they saw a white policeman write on the green black- board. When he finished, he told the three to read what he had written: "999 Lemba Street – Caiphus Nyoka executed – Hands of Death".
The three described the policeman as being "of small build, dressed in jeans, a navy lumber jacket and a balaclava, folded up above his eyes. Caiphus' father, Abednigo Moses Nyoka, 54, confirmed much of the youths' story this week. He said police arrived at the house at about 2.30 am on Monday; that he heard them knocking violently at the door of the bedroom and then heard the door being kicked. He said he next heard one of the policemen shouting, "Kaptein, hier is by" (Here he is, Captain). The police then came to the main house and knocked at the front door, he said, while another knocked at the kitchen door.
"As I opened the kitchen door, a white policeman, dressed in uniform, pointed a rifle at me," he said. The policeman entered the house and looked around in all rooms, he said, then "woke my younger son up, Titus, and told him to lie down." He said he went to Caiphus' bedroom and found his three young guests lying face down on the ground. "Just as one of the boys was beginning to explain what had happened, I was ordered back to the house," he said. "A white policeman returned to the main house and asked us to come out and identify the three youths," he said.
"As my daughter, Magdeline, 20, and I were walking out of the house, the policeman said only one of us should come out." "Magdeline then went outside to identify the three," he added. He said he saw the police taking the three away to a white kombi.
At about 4.30am, he said, a white mortuary vehicle arrived. Four council police pulled a stretcher from the vehicle, he said, and took it to the back room. "A short while later they returned with the naked body of my son, lying face up," he said.
When Weekly Mail visited the Nyoka home this week there were two bullet shells in the room and clothes relatives said were worn by Caiphus the night of his death were also there. According to Lt Olivier of the SA Police press liaison division, the matter is under investigation and so the SAP cannot comment on the allegations made by the three youths and the father of the deceased. "Should the four have any complaints against the police, they are free to submit such complaints to the nearest police station," he said.
Earlier this week, the SAP confirmed the death "during follow-up operations, after the arrest of two suspects who were found carrying a number of mini-limpet mines and handgrenades of foreign origin".
This article originally appeared in the Weekly Mail.