Police ‘left assaulted colleague for dead’

FOUR Eastern Cape officers may face jail time for murder.

The provincial Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has completed its investigation on the death of Barkly East police sergeant Sibongile Xoli.

This comes a week after nine Gauteng policemen were charged with the murder of Mozambican taxi driver Emido Macia.

Xoli, an officer at the Barkly East police station, was arrested on January 18, allegedly while drunk.

He was locked in a cell with three detainees and 17 hours later was found dead.

The Ipid report alleges Xoli was assaulted by a colleague, a warrant officer, who then left him for dead in the cells, and that three other senior policemen in the station acted improperly in handling the matter.

The police watchdog has now asked provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Celiwe Binta to suspend the warrant officer and lay internal charges against the three other policemen.

The Ipid’s preliminary report suggests these officers lied under oath when they stated Xoli had committed suicide by hanging himself in the police cell.

It details unsuccessful attempts by the three detainees to get help while the sergeant lay on the cold cement bleeding and dying.

Hours before his death, Xoli’s commander went in search of him at the Nkululeko township after he failed to report for duty. The commander allegedly found Xoli drunk and arrested him.

“When Xoli came into the police station he was walking but he was carried to the cells after he was assaulted and he collapsed in the passage.

“The assault left him with multiple soft tissue injuries and head injuries which lead to internal bleeding into his brain subsequently leading to his death,” read the Ipid report.

The report states Xoli died of internal and external injuries that were not recorded by police.

During its month-long inquiry, the Ipid spoke to 14 witnesses including police officers and inmates .

Ipid’s Tiyani Sambo said the report was handed to the office of the provincial commissioner .

“We have not yet received formal correspondence from the SAPS ,” Sambo said.

The Police Prison and Civil Rights Union (Popcru) is livid.

Xolani Vava, the Popcru chairman in Ukhahlamba, said heads must roll.

“We have seen the report. It is a painful story of how this member was killed and other officers failed to act and rush him to hospital.

“It says the members lied, saying he hanged himself, but the detainees whom he was locked up with say he died on the floor, complaining of a headache and breathing heavily ,” said Vava. — /

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