Murder-accused police officers back in court for bail application

Five police officers accused of murder are due back in the Cradock magistrate’s court in the Eastern Cape on Monday for a bail application.

The officers were arrested by members of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) after allegations surfaced that they arrested a 29-year-old man, assaulted him, and interrogated him about a stolen cellphone belonging to one of the officers.

Later, the body of a 29-year-old victim was found within the premises of the SA Police Service in Cradock.

According to the Ipid, the officers – Melikhaya Madubedube, Ibanathi Jack, Ndumiso Mpondo, Khulile Damane and Vuyani Mahlasela – each face a charge of murder, two counts of attempted murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and three counts of kidnapping.

The officers, who are aged between 29 and 46, were arrested a week ago following the man’s death early in January. They first appeared in court on Friday.

The Ipid said at the time of the incident the accused were conducting crime prevention patrols in town.

Ipid spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said the group allegedly left the victim at the police station after they assaulted him.

Left unconscious at the police station

“They allegedly left him unconscious when they reported off-duty, and he was discovered by other police officers who were working another shift,” said Shuping.

“They reported death in custody, which was investigated by the Ipid.”

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the officers allegedly suffocated the deceased, who offered to take them to town in search of a person who might have the knowledge of the stolen cellphone.

“They found the second victim and took him to a secluded area where they allegedly tortured him,” said NPA spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.

“The accused persons allegedly left the victim lying on the premises of the station and went their separate ways. The station commander found the victim on the station’s grounds.

“An ambulance was called and he was declared dead on the scene. The surviving victim identified the accused persons as the officers who assaulted them.”

Tyali said the state is opposing bail.

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