ROAD TO JUSTICE
Former SAPS ‘rogue’ cops accused of extortion, assault and kidnapping listen to gruesome torture testimony
The former SAPS North West Deputy Commissioner Major-General Jan Ntebo Mabula and his ‘rogue’ investigative unit have appeared in the Johannesburg High Court on charges of extortion, assault and kidnapping, nearly 16 years after the alleged crimes took place.
“My body felt like it was being ripped apart,” SAPS Warrant Officer Paul Kgoedi testified on Tuesday at the Johannesburg High Court.
Major-General Jan Ntebo Mabula, the former SAPS North West Deputy Commissioner, and his “rogue” investigative team, who have pleaded not guilty, sat for 3½ hours in court listening to Kgoedi’s testimony of how nearly 16 years ago they kidnapped and assaulted him and extorted money from his family.
Some of the accused were unresponsive. Others shook their heads at intervals. Accused Ismael Dawood leaned forward with his hands clasped together.
Mabula and his co-accused – Matome Kgorane, Samuel Sanamela Kutumela, Ismael Dawood, Adam Mahlako Moahloli, Mpikwa Meshack Makhubu, Mfana Patrick Makutu and Israel Mdluli – are charged with kidnapping, assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and extortion.
These charges are related to incidents that occurred nearly 16 years ago, in 2006.
The case has been delayed for so long in part due to summonses being provisionally withdrawn by the Gauteng Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), advocate Andrew Chauke, in addition to Mabula’s unit – or “torture squad” as they became known – being “used” to arrest advocate Gerrie Nel (a former prosecutor with the National Prosecuting Authority) and General Johan Booysen (the former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head) and to disrupt the prosecution of Thoshan Panday and Sarah-Jane Trent as well as corruption investigations into Khomotso Phahlane (the former acting National Police Commissioner).
Read more here about why the road to justice has taken so long.
This trial relates to the R14-million robbery of a SAPS store in Benoni in May 2006.
A task team, which included Mabula and all his co-accused, was established by the SAPS to investigate the robbery. The team arrested and interrogated three suspects – Paul Kgoedi, Serious Mthembi and Richard Tlakulane Sebuyi, who are the complainants in this case – along with several others who are now deceased.
The State accuses Mabula and his investigative team of kidnapping Kgoedi and detaining him at the offices of the Serious and Violent Crimes Unit in Braamfontein (from 29 May to 1 June 2006), where he was interrogated for information and assaulted for hours.
The State argues that detaining the suspects was a contravention of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, which states that an arrested person should, “as soon as possible be brought to a police station”.
In his testimony, Kgoedi said he was brought to a police station a day after being arrested.
Tortured for information
The State accuses those charged of using methods of torture which include:
- Administering electric shocks to parts of victims’ bodies while they were tied to chairs with their faces hooded;
- Assaulting victims with open hands and feet and kicking them with booted feet, while the arms and legs of the victims were tied behind their backs and they were lying on the floor;
- Suffocating victims with a rubber tube pulled over their faces;
- Suffocating victims by pouring water into their noses and mouths;
- Suffocating victims by putting a plastic bag over their heads; and
- Tying a motor vehicle safety belt around victim Serious Mthembi’s neck. Kgoedi testified that he was “dragged around like a dog”.
Kgoedi on Tuesday told the court that after being stripped naked, with his arms and legs tied to a chair, one of the accused took out a very large machine that he believed to be an electric current tester.
He said it had insulated wires with copper coming out of the ends that the accused attached to his genital area, toes, inside lower lip and inner thighs.
Kgoedi described the feeling of electrocution as his “body being torn apart from the inside. It was so painful that I screamed and screamed and screamed… And as these things [were] happening, I couldn’t believe it… and it was so painful.
“It was just destroying my body and every time this thing is happening they just [kept] shouting: ‘Where is the money? Where is the money?’”
To which he responded: “I don’t know. I don’t have money.”
After which Kgoedi described being dropped to the floor, with his arms and legs still tied behind his back as he lay on his stomach.
Kgoedi said that accused number three, Samuel Kutumela, sat on Kgoedi’s hands and covered his nose and mouth with a tyre tube, suffocating him as he pulled it back.
Kgoedi said when the tube was released and he started breathing, they would pour water down his nose and mouth, again suffocating him.
After being forced to write a statement, he was brought to Jan Mabula, who said the statement was unsatisfactory and the police officers must continue to “work on him”, according to Kgoedi’s testimony.
When State advocate Paul Schutte asked Kgoedi if he knew Mabula, Kgoedi said, “I didn’t know his name, I didn’t know his rank. Only some years later I saw him on TV.”
At one point, Kgoedi broke down, wiping sweat from his brow, sitting down briefly while cradling his head in his hands.
The State accuses Mabula and his team of coercing or intimidating Kgoedi’s sister, Nomvula Patience Kgoedi, by threatening to harm Paul Kgoedi unless she handed over R30,000.
Kgoedi testified that during his detainment, the accused got his sister’s number and called her, informing her that he had been arrested and that she must pay R30,000 for him to be freed, which she agreed to do.
Kgoedi said he was taken from the office in Braamfontein, handcuffed and put in the back of a car between two of the accused. It is unclear if all the accused were present.
They took Kgoedi to where his sister was staying in Mpumalanga.
Once there, while lying face-down on the ground with his hands bound behind him, Kgoedi said he saw his sister holding two bundles of R100 notes, which she handed over. He said the accused went into the house and searched for more money, collecting a total of R73,000.
Kgoedi said on the way back, while leaning forward to ease the pressure of his handcuffs, he overheard one of the accused in the front seat on the phone with their commissioner, who instructed them to “deal with him [Serious Mthembi – detained with Kgoedi] until he cracks – even if he dies – [saying] they [the accused] are protected.”
The trial continues. DM