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‘Grootfontein cops brutally assault inmates’

2020-03-04  Obrien Simasiku

‘Grootfontein cops brutally assault inmates’

OMUTHIYA – The Internal Investigations Unit in Otjozondjupa region has launched an investigation into allegations against some officers stationed at Grootfontein police station that they are involved in bribery and have assaulted trial-awaiting inmates.

Otjozondjupa police spokesperson, Inspector Maureen Mbeha, confirmed the matter saying eight criminal cases were registered at Grootfontein police station. 

The specific charges are against four police officers and range from assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, common assault and bribery. Mbeha said all these cases were registered following allegations after a massive cell search operation was conducted at the police station.

“During that search a number of cellphones and other illegal objects were confiscated. 
Furthermore, there were allegations that some cellular phones and other objects were hidden by inmates who were resisting to be searched and as a result, minimum force was used in order for those illegal items to be retrieved.  Since there are cases involved, Investigations are under way to establish what really transpired that day,” stressed Mbeha. Last month, between 10 and 11 February, eight trial-awaiting inmates were allegedly assaulted by the police, who kicked and beat them up and in some instances the complainants had their heads wrapped in plastic bags filled with chilli while they were being assaulted. 
The issue came to light when inmates appeared in the Grootfontein Magistrate’s Court where trial-awaiting suspects could be seen limping and appeared in extreme pain. After interrogation by the presiding officer, the inmates narrated their ordeals.

The complainants are Patrick Sunday (30), Elrico Mouton (24), Johannes Mushongo (24) and Joseph Nghiyolwa (40), who all alleged they were assaulted by police officers searching for a cellphone in their cells. 

According to filed court documents, Sunday indicated he was the first victim after he had refused to give money to a certain Inspector Muyoba who he claims was earlier given N$1 000 to bring a Huawei cellphone into the cells to enable one of the inmates to communicate with his sick wife.
Muyoba demanded more money, but after Sunday declined, saying he had no more, he was threatened to be transferred or have the cellphone confiscated. 

“He came to search and did not find the phone with me. I was then taken out and Muyoba started beating me with a plastic on my head and continued beating. Even the kitchen boys were present,” stated the inmate in a sworn statement, who claimed he suffered a broken arm.

The second victim, Mouton, said that on 10 February at around 01h00 to 02h00, he was called out of the cell by the officers asking him for a Nokia cellphone, to which he responded it was taken by another guy who was out on ball, but instead they twisted his arms accusing him of lying. 

“I was then told to lay down, and again they twisted my arm, I was assaulted on my arms and shoulders. Then they called Mushongo, he too was ordered to lay down, then I saw Muyoba placing a plastic on his (Mushongo’s) head, I could see him kicking hard like a dying person due to shortness of breath,” Mouton stated in his sworn affidavit.

Nghiyolwa and Mushongo pointed out that they were attacked by a certain Sergeant Katanga and Sergeant Malumo who were in the company of Inspector Muyoba. 
The alleged attack happened at around 23h00 in February. Nghiyolwa suffered bruises on his right hand and scratches on the left hand.

“We are investigating the alleged incidents and only after the investigations are done shall will be able to establish what exactly happened. And whoever will be found guilty by the competent court, will face the law,” further stated Mbeha who confirmed the incident.

2020-03-04  Obrien Simasiku

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