Torture victim shot

after trial

A victim of police torture was assassinated soon after his attackers were convicted

Cheryl Goodenough

Hours after a rural KwaZulu-Natal court found that former Impendle resident Mfaniseni Radebe had been viciously assaulted in 1997 - an electric current from a battery had been sent through clamps attached under his arms and on to his penis - he was shot at his home in Imbali outside Pietermaritzburg.

Last Wednesday the 44-year- old man was present when the Impendle Magistrate’s Court sentenced his attackers, sergeants Bhekizwe Ngeleka and Malcolm Lami Mjweni from the Port Shepstone murder and robbery unit, to 18 months in prison, half of the term suspended for five years.

But within a few hours of returning to his home in Imbali, Radebe was shot in the head, through a window.

According to police sources, Radebe’s wife, Martha Latha, was in the kitchen at about 8.30pm on Wednesday, March 15, when he told her he was going to the toilet, next to the bedroom.

Minutes later she heard a gunshot.
She ran to the bedroom, locked the door and hid behind their bed. After a while she called to her husband, but there was no answer. Then she heard him falling to the ground and saw blood streaming under the door.

Neighbours saw two men running away.

Radebe’s nightmare began on September 12 1997. Latha told the court that police had regarded Radebe as a suspect in an armed robbery.

They came to the couple’s house in Impendle (where they had lived until about eight months ago) at about 5am and took him in a minibus to a nearby plantation.

A while later, she said, one police officer returned to the house and assaulted her. She was then instructed to walk with the policeman to the nearby plantation where Radebe was being held. She was horrified at his appearance.

After Latha returned home, Radebe was taken from the plantation by the police officers.

He arrived alone later in the morning with R20, which he told her he was to use to telephone a police officer with information about a robbery police were investigating.

Latha described in court how her husband told her he had been choked by electricity. His arms, legs and penis had been burned from being electrocuted.

Latha said that Radebe had sores all over his body and the assault had a great emotional impact. The couple were never able to have sex again and Radebe developed diabetes, which may have been stress related.

Ngeleka and Mjweni claimed to have been with Radebe for only 15 minutes after having met him at the Plessislaer police station in Pietermaritzburg. They claimed that he was an informer.

However, they did not produce pocket books in court to show their activities on the day on which Radebe was assaulted. Pocket books, in which details about everyday activities are written, are supposed to be carried by police officers.

Police representative Superintendent Dawood Kader said that the two police officers were dismissed from the South African Police Service this week because they had been convicted without the option of a fine.

The two policemen, who have not yet been jailed, are expected to appeal the decision.

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