Murder accused claims police brutality

Themba Luke Radebe, one of four men accused of murdering members of two Benoni families in February, on Thursday accused the police of assaulting and torturing him to extract a confession.

Radebe (44) told Judge Nico Coetzee in the Secunda High Court that a plastic bag was put over his head and kept there until he fainted in the offices of the Benoni detective branch in Gauteng shortly after his arrest on February 11.

Radebe was arrested during the investigation into the murder of Frans van der Merwe (57); his wife, Gina (53); their son Daryl (31); and his wife, Melissa (24), of Benoni. They were found dead near Loskop Dam in Mpumalanga on February 9. All four had been shot.

Radebe, wearing a brownish polo neck jersey and green chinos, also told the court that he was hit in the face by a number of unidentified police officers who apparently wanted him to reveal the whereabouts of other suspects sought in the case.

They also wanted him to accompany them to the various crime scenes to point out unspecified evidence.

Giving evidence-in-chief under the guidance of his advocate, DP Mogagabe, Radebe described his arrest by saying that he was pursued by a white Corsa carrying a number of police officers who pulled him over.

They then proceeded to pull him from his car and assault him. He was later handcuffed and put in a police kombi containing several other police officers as well as accused number one, Vincent Mokhosonke Khubeka (22), and was then further assaulted.

At this point, the judge intervened and asked: “You say you were assaulted by ‘them’. You mean the police and not accused number one?”

To which Radebe replied: “Yes.”

Mogagabe later asked Radebe if he was sure that he was being ordered and not requested to assist with the pointing out of evidence.

Radebe said he was sure “because when someone makes a request, he does not assault you”.

Radebe testified that the assaults stopped when he agreed to assist with the investigation.

Radebe essentially repeated his evidence during cross-examination by state advocate Erik van der Merwe, which was interrupted by lunch.

During that evidence, Radebe told Van der Merwe that although he (Radebe) had been told that he could lodge a case against the police for assault, he had been convinced by a police officer identified to the court only as “Captain Bob” not to press charges.

Also in the dock are Lucky Peter Mbalati (20) and Clement Bay-Bay Makua (24).

The four face 22 charges of inter alia murder, attempted murder, rape, robbery, kidnapping and theft.

Khubeka, a former employee of the Van der Merwe family, pleaded guilty to two charges of robbery and one of theft. He denied kidnap, rape and murder charges.

The three other accused have all pleaded innocent to the indictments.

Radebe, who earlier made a confession to a Benoni magistrate and took part in three “pointing outs”, disputes the admissibility of the confession as well as the “pointing outs” in the trial-within-a-trial.

Nine police officers involved in the case on Tuesday strongly denied the allegations.

The case is on the roll for two weeks, although this part of the trial is expected to last until Monday. The trial will then go to closing arguments by next Wednesday.—Sapa

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