Innocent man recalls nightmare of police torture and assault
A LABOURER from a small village outside Makhado (formerly Louis Trichardt) was so severely tortured by the police when they tried to force him to confess to theft that he was left a broken man with permanent physical scars.
The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, was told that Raymond Mashele, 32, is permanently disfigured following the torture. Although a doctor confirmed the injuries he had suffered and his arms and legs were scarred as a result, he could not open a case of assault against the police.
According to Mashele, a female SAPS officer threatened to throw him back in jail and throw the key away if he took the matter further.
Mashele was kept in a holding cell for two weeks while being subjected to torture and inhumane treatment.
His family eventually managed to gather the R2 000 bail which the court had set for him and he was allowed to go home. The court then withdrew charges against him when it emerged that the police had the wrong suspect.
Mashele eventually claimed R4 million in damages from police as well as from individual SAPS members involved in his torture. This amount was later reduced to R1.5m.
The court found that the police were responsible for his injuries. The only question remaining was how much he was due to be paid in damages. This issue is to be determined at a later stage.
Mashele’s ordeal started on April 1, 2014, when a family from his village accused him of stealing goods from their home. They dragged him to the Makhado police station where he was held for a few hours.
Before he was formally arrested or charged, an armed policeman removed him from the cells and he was interrogated in the charge office about “the missing goods.” He was hit with a stick across the head as he said he had no idea what the police were referring to.
Mashele was then transported to a remote area outside town, where he was strung-up by handcuffs around his wrists to a metal pole suspended in the air between two police vans.
His ankles were chained and he was unable to move while hanging from the pole.
He was violently assaulted with his own shoes, while three male officers and a female screamed insults at him. They demanded a confession as to where the stolen goods were.
When his wrists bled profusely, the police fastened the cuffs to his upper arms and strung him again to the pole, before they resumed their torturing.
Mashele said he was crying hysterically by then and he believed he was going to die, as they told him they were going to drown him in the nearby dam.
He said although he had no knowledge of the missing goods, he told the police what they wanted to hear, as he could not handle to torture.
While bleeding from his arms and legs, he was thrown back into the van and taken to a mountain, where he was told that he was going to be killed.
The police then took him back to the holding cell and gave him a flea-infested blanket. His pleas for medical help were ignored and he was left in the cold, dark cell, while bleeding.
Mashele said he was taken to the same spot the following day and tortured in the same manner, although this time they also suffocated him with a plastic bag over his head. He urgently needed medical treatment and feared he would die.
The court granted him bail a few days later, but his extremely poor family only managed to gather the money two weeks later.
All charges were dropped soon after this when he was told that fingerprints on the scene led the police to the “real culprit.”
Mashele said his life turned into a nightmare as he now feared police. He cannot speak or move when he sees an officer and has recurring nightmares. He cannot use one of his hands and is dependent on his hands to work and earn money.
Bleeding from his arms and legs, he was thrown back into the van