… break suspect’s ribs until he breathes his last
A Thetsane Police station officer who told a suspect’s mother that they were going to assault him until they broke his ribs, made good on his word and smashed his ribs-in leading to his brutal demise.
The unnamed officer who was supposed to interrogate the late Tšeliso Sekonyela (28) is said to have told his mother that he was going to break Tšeliso’s ribs, and incidentally an autopsy report performed on his lifeless body revealed inter alia that he had broken ribs which led to internal bleeding and death.
According to a physician who examined the deceased’s corpse, the latter was stricken hard with a blunt objected compared to steel on the left leg which splintered his bones to small pieces. Reports further detail that his ribs were smashed-in causing internal bleeding, handcuffs tightened through the flesh to the bone while the wounded skull looked like it was dragged on rocky roads, and that he had been strangled to force life out of him.
This came not as a surprise to the mother of the deceased ‘Matšeliso Sekonyela who was told by one police officer that they were going to break his ribs. Alas, Sekonyela made it to a list of police brutality victims which has undeniably become a new trend in the country where suspects are apprehended and callously slaughtered without concrete evidence linking them to allegations.
Sekonyela (‘Matšeliso) told this publication that his son was suspected of stealing alcohol at his work place in Lesia where he was arrested from his night shift duty. She said his son died two days after his arrest.
“The autopsy report discloses that his ribs were broken and he was strangled before he died. The police officer who was with him when I went to visit him (at the police station) said that he was going to break his ribs, and indeed he fulfilled his plan, now my son is dead” she said.
She narrated how her son had gone to work on the evening of September 2 and left the work place around 04:00 am the following day since he worked night shift that week.
“Around 08:00 am he received a call telling him there had been a stealing that took place at his work place.
“He left to see what happened, and then he went to the police station to report what happened together with his bosses, this is when they arrested him,” she explained.
She continued that they took him for questioning from the day he got arrested. Sekonyela mentioned that when she went to visit him at the police station on Fridayin the morning he looked as though he was still in good condition.
“He did not seem like they had beaten him I only heard him explain to me that they are beating him telling him to explain how the stealing took place since he was the one at work at that day,” she added.
Sekonyela said that she waited until 17:00hrs in the afternoon to see her son for the last time that day but she could not because she was told that they cannot be seen at that time again so all she heard was the police officer calling Tšeliso’s name from the cell.
“The next morning when I went to see him he told me that I should not leave him there especially if they tell me he cannot be seen. When I asked him why he said they are beaten severely and he believed they cannot beat him in my presence,” she added.
“The police also told my son that if he is not going to speak how they stole and hid alcohol then he was going to break his ribs,” she mentioned.
She added “We were told their time was up for them to get back to the cell, and he left but I could not leave the station. I still remember the tears in his eyes telling me not to leave him with the police, so I decided to stay throughout the day,” she continued.
Sekonyela explained that it was around 15:00hrs when she left the station to Lesia village and came back at 17:00hrs as she was told that they will be seen at that time.
“On Saturday I wanted to see my son but they could not let me talk to him, they told me that he was not supposed to be seen in the morning but he shall be seen in the afternoon, I waited until his wife showed up at lunch and left without seeing him leaving me at the station,” she said.
“It was around 17:00hrs when they (suspects) were all released for fresh air and this time Tšeliso was not amongst them. I asked the police officer where he was and I was told he had been released and had gone home,” she said.
“In frustration I rushed home to see how he was doing unfortunately I could not find him, I then went to all the places where I thought I could find him but it was all to no avail.
“I went back to Thesane Police station and told them I could not find my son, this time the officer told me he had been taken to Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH), upon my arrival at QMMH I was told Tšeliso had been brought by a police officer at 16:00hrs but they could not allow me to see him,” she continued.
She added that instead they referred her to a certain police officer telling her that the officer would tell her where Tšeliso was. Sekonyela was at this time more frustrated than before when she could not locate her son.
“What surprised me is that at the hospital’s reception they showed me that he registered at 16:00hrs but was not in hospital, I went home thinking maybe they do not want to inform me that he was dead,” she said.
“On Sunday morning I sent people to Lesotho funeral to check if such names have not signed in, I suddenly found that he had been received at the morgue the previous day at 16:30hrs, the same time I was being told many things by police, my son was checking-in the mortuary treys,” she continued.
“When I saw the postmortem I remembered that the police said he was going to break his ribs and of course he did, my son’s ribs were broken according to the postmortem,” she explained.
Responding to the matter the Police Spokesperson Mpiti Mopeli said the police are still in the middle of the investigations, he mentioned that it is suspected that police assaulted the deceased.