… police officers salute the court when entering and later lie to it…
MASERU – Maseru Magistrate Court Resident, Magistrate Polo Banyane, has on Wednesday condemned police brutality that is allegedly committed against crime suspects when they are in police custody.
Magistrate Banyane condemned the brutality after hearing from a fraud suspect, Tsela Mphou of Ts’enola, who alleged that police officers assaulted him when he was in their custody after his arrest.
Mr Mphou is charged with defrauding Lineo Phamotse during an incident that happened sometime in 2017. It is alleged that he was working at one of the furniture shops near Sekoting taxi rank and that he promised to help Ms Phamotse secure furniture from the shop if she gave him M2,400, which she gave to him. He never saw him again, according to evidence.
During bail application by Mr Mphou, the crown objected him getting bail and the police officer investigating the case, Police Constable (PC) Mbobo, reasoned that police fear Mr Mphou might not stand trial as he resides in South Africa where it will not be easy to bring him to justice. He said he had already failed to honour police orders when he was asked to report to Pitso ground police.
Furthermore, police have evidence that Mr Mphou is part of the syndicate that defraud people of their money within the Maseru city, said Constable Mbobo.
When asked to question the constable, Mr Mphou rather decided to ‘exposed police brutality he suffered while in custody.
Mr Mphou, who could not speak clearly ‘because of anger’ said it was not true that he stays in South Africa. He narrated how police started beating him up after he accepted to have taken Ms Phamotse’s money.
He explained that he was chained both legs and arms and suffocated with a tyre tube, kicked with boots and hit with a hammer on the knees and at the back after which he sustained serious injuries that still pain him. He showed the injuries to the court in the absence of all people who had attended the case.
When the bail hearing continues after the Magistrate Banyane had inspected Mr Mphou’s wounds, he warned police officers and urged them to stop assaulting or torturing suspects after they arrested them.
She said the court decided to inspect Mr Mphou to see the wounds as more than five suspects had already complained of the same police brutality before court and all of them sustained similar injuries.
According to Magistrate Banyane it is irritating that police officers always lie about not assaulting suspects despite clear proof that is always presented before court and “this practice of police officers who will salute the court when entering it and later lie to it amounts to an insult to the court and the judiciary as a whole”.
She ordered police to bring Mr Mphou
Magistrate Banyane thereafter ordered that Mphou be brought back before court on Monday next week along with his passport that will determine how long he stayed in South Africa. She also ordered that Mr Mphou’s friend named only as Thella, must be brought to court as Mr Mphou alleged he also underwent the similar torture.