Missing son was 'tortured, killed, then dumped by cops'
Three cops face allegations they tortured and murdered an ex-con suspected of being involved in a murder
Mbongiseni Ndlela was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in a dimly lit holding cell – heaving his last breaths beneath a plastic packet as three policemen attempted to extract a confession.
Desperate to cover their tracks, the trio then dumped Ndlela’s body in a field far from his family homestead in Mhlopeni, on the outskirts of Greytown in central KwaZulu-Natal.
His frantic family, who had mounted a search for their loved one, were told he’d been released on August 2, the same day he’d arrived at the police station.This version of events – that the policemen tortured Ndlela and his nephew for hours – has been put forward by Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) officers probing Ndlela’s alleged death in SAPS detention.
The three police have been arrested and will appear in court on Wednesday. A fourth officer wanted in connection with Ndlela’s death, according to Ipid, had committed suicide.
Irrespective of his guilt or innocence, Ndlela, father of three, had been suspected of having a hand in a murder case, with detectives from Muden calling on him to present himself for questioning.
Speaking to Times Select on Tuesday, his older brother, Funumuzi, said rumours of his brother’s alleged involvement had swirled and eventually reached police.
“One of my other brothers called a detective at the police station and he confirmed that my brother was suspected of being implicated in the murder. The detective also said that he had heard that my brother had run away from home we told him that wasn’t true; he was with us.“He had just come back from prison and maybe that’s why people found it so easy to accuse him but we will never know,” he said.
Ndlela had served four years of a seven-year sentence for attempted murder.
Ndlela and his nephew, Thobelani Ndlela, had traveled to the police station, a move his family said was proof that he had nothing to hide.
“The police took him [Ndlela] into the interrogation room. They then went to my son and asked him about ‘the gun’ and they started assaulting him inside the police station,” he said.
Despite his denial, the officers brought Thobelani back to the homestead in search for the weapon.
“He said there was no gun and he showed them a toy gun in the house. They then started assaulting him in the yard until his mother came out and asked why they were beating her child. The assault was too brutal for her to watch,” Funumuzi said.On returning home from work, Funumuzi was told of what played out at the homestead and immediately left for the police station.
“While we were speaking to the police we heard them [Ndlela and Thobelani] screaming and we knew they were being assaulted. We decided to leave the station because we couldn’t bare to hear them scream,” he said.Funumuzi said they’d returned to the police station the following day, only to be told that Ndlela and Thobelani had been released.
“We went back home and we couldn’t find them so we decided to go out and search for them along the road. While we were searching I got a call from my son to saying the police had deserted him in the middle of nowhere and he was alone. He had no idea where his uncle was,” he said.
Unconvinced that his brother had disappeared into the ether after being released, Funumuzi reported the matter to Ipid.
The police watchdog body’s spokespersoan, Moses Dlamini, said a task team had been formed to probe the ex-con’s vanishing.
“The team conducted investigations and arrested three police officers on Sunday. Of those arrested, one is from Muden detectives and two are from Crime Intelligence, Greytown,” he said.Detailing the allegations against the officers, Dlamini said: “The suspects were detained, tortured and assaulted inside Muden SAPS cells until one of the suspects succumbed to his injuries and died. Then the police orchestrated a plan to dispose of the deceased’s body, dumping it in nearby bushes.”
Funumuzi said his brother’s past made him an easy target.
“My brother was a very calm and quiet person ... a good man. To his family and his close friends he was someone who loved and respected people. We can’t be sure about what others thought of him ... maybe that’s why he found himself in this situation,” he said.
“We encouraged him to go to the police because we thought the detectives would prove that he was innocent. We didn’t know he would end up killing him.”
The policemen are expected to appear in the Greytown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday on charges of murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and defeating the ends of justice.