The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has launched investigations after two suspects were found hanging while in custody at two local police stations.
A suspected rapist was found hanging in his cell at the Grabouw Police Station on Thursday 2 September. This incident was preceded by another at Macassar Police Station, where a suspect detained for assault was found hanging in his prison cell on Wednesday 18 August.
According to Ipid spokesperson Grace Langa, an inquest docket was opened after the latter incident. She said the deceased was arrested for two counts of assault on Wednesday at 16:00 and detained at Macassar Police Station.
According to a Macassar spokesperson, the suspect was a prisoner convicted of robbery out on parole, and was arrested for his involvement in two incidents of assault, for which he was sought by police and apparently targeted by others.
At about 18:00 during a cell visit he was found hanging against the cell gate.
“He had used the cell mattress lining strings to hang himself at the cells,” Langa said. “Paramedics were called to the scene and he was declared dead there. The state pathologist came and her preliminary findings confirmed it was consistent with hanging.”
The deceased was identified as a 37-year-old Macassar resident and taken to Tygerberg Forensic Pathology Services.
Ipid is conducting a preliminary investigation until the conclusion of the autopsy to ascertain whether the matter warrants full investigation.
In a separate incident, a 31-year-old rape suspect was found hanging in his cell a number of days after his arrest. Langa said it is alleged that on Tuesday 31 August around 06:40, the deceased was arrested for rape.
According to Grabouw spokesperson Captain Raldeen Atson, the deceased allegedly had a relationship with a minor and was charged with statutory rape.
Langa said on Thursday 2 September the deceased appeared in the Grabouw Magistrates’ Court, where he was remanded in custody until Wednesday 8 September. He had returned to his cell, in which he was detained alone, at the Grabouw Police Station at about 15:10.
“At approximately 16:50, when police visited his cell, they found him hanging in a kneeling position. It’s suspected he used his red underwear lace to hang himself on. It is also suspected he attempted to hang himself with a blue shoelace as a broken piece of it was hanging next to the red underwear.
“It appears the deceased was allowed to go into the cells with his belongings from court. Investigations are continuing.”