Friday, 24 October 2008

Inmates sang to drown screams

22/10/2008 22:25 - (SA)

Vryheid - A Vryheid game rancher was being sodomised in a police cell while the inmates were singing, the Pietermaritzburg High Court was told on Wednesday.

The incident, which took place after midnight on January 27 2006, so traumatised the manager, Zacharia Duvenhage, that he has moved to Botswana to try to forget.

Game rancher, Etienne van Wyk, is claiming R1.2m from the Minister of Safety and Security.

Van Wyk and Duvenhage were put into the Hlobane police cells after they were arrested for transporting Van Wyk's game animals without a licence.

Duvenhage was not sodomised but was assaulted and he is claiming R350 000 from the minister.

Their counsel, Advocate Gerrie Roberts SC, said the acting police station commander was asleep and was not woken by screams of Van Wyk while he was being sodomised.

Violent criminals

Van Wyk and Duvenhage were first held in a cell on their own, but three female suspects were put into that cell and Van Wyk and Duvenhage moved to the cell with 14 inmates.

Evidence given was that they could have been held in other cells, the magistrate court cells or taken to other police stations. Three vans were available to move them to other stations.

The 14 inmates included suspects predisposed to violence, Robert said.

Suspects included a man charged with three murders and arson, and six men charged with rape. Other suspects were arrested for car theft and housebreaking.

Both Van Wyk and Duvenhage have given permission for their names to be used in the media.

The minister is contesting their claims.

Broke into song

Roberts said that because the police station commander did not respond to Van Wyk's screams the inference was that he was asleep. Other policemen did not respond to the screams either.

Roberts said that the prescribed hourly inspections of the cells during their incarceration were not made.

The Vryheid district surgeon, Dr Senta Klingenberg, told the court that there was evidence of repeated penetration of Van Wyk. There were both external and internal tears.

She said that Duvenhage had two bruises on the head and on his back.

Roberts said that Van Wyk was sodomised at about 03:00 by one or more inmates while others broke into song. Judge Nic van der Reyden said that this was a ruse used by prisoners to mask the sound of a bar being sawn or a similar incident.

Gate locked, no response

Roberts said that Van Wyk managed to phone his wife who contacted the investigating officer in the game transport case.

The investigating officer went to the station and found the gate locked. He phoned the station's number and heard a phone ringing in the charge office, but no-one responded.

He sounded his vehicle hooter but there was no response and he climbed the locked gate and went into the charge office where he found the commander, an Inspector Mtshali, asleep at 03:55.

He took Van Wyk and Duvenhage to Vryheid district surgeon Dr Klingenberg.

She found tears, blood and bruising, indicating repeated penetration.

'Police must have known'

The former commander of the police station, Superintendent Isobel Weiss, told the court that assaults had been perpetrated in the cells and the policemen must have known about them.

She said that when inmates were singing, especially in the early hours, cells should be inspected because "something could be up".

Weiss would not have put suspects charged with the type of offence allegedly perpetrated by Van Wyk and Duvenhage in a cell with violent criminals.

The case continues on Thursday.

- The Witness


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