Five South African Police Beat Nigerian to Death

Five Limpopo police officers beat a Nigerian man to death, the Polokwane Magistrate’s Court heard on Thursday.

“I put it to you that you beat him, he fainted and you resuscitated him. He woke up and… you beat him again,” prosecutor Jacky Mabasa told the officers during cross-examination. “You also sprinkled water on him.”

The five, Boitumelo Ramahlala, Mashiba Mathata, Collins Sekoati, Thabo Mabotja and Clement Tsotsane, face murder and assault charges. They were applying for bail.

They are accused of beating Onyechiabi Iwuaka to death on May 21 while he was visiting a friend. His friend escaped the assault. Iwuaka died on the way to the Polokwane police station.

The court was told the officers stopped on the way to the police station to buy water, as Iwuaka was bleeding from his ears.

Mabasa said an ambulance was called for Iwuaka after he died.

“The reason you cannot tell me specifically what you did that day is because you assaulted him. That’s why you cannot tell what you did,” Mabasa said.


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The court was told Iwuaka was merely in his friend’s home, and was the wrong person to be arrested.

The five evaded questions, and said they never accused or hurt anyone. This prompted magistrate Janine Ungerer to question if they shared the same holding cell. She suspected they had coached each other on how to respond to questions.

The bail application was postponed to Monday.