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Tortured' folk report police to umphakatsi

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SITEKI - Residents of Phonjwane and surro-unding areas who were allegedly assaulted and tortured by police have reported them to the area’s umphakatsi.

Close to 30 people allege that they were assaulted and tortured by close to 40 police officers during a search for suspected serial rapist Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina on New Year’s Eve.

Yesterday, the area’s headman, Ncuku Gamedze, convened a meeting between some of the residents and police to find a lasting solution to the complaints.

During the meeting, the residents wanted answers from the police as to why they were ‘tortured’. They further wanted the umphakatsi to reveal the names of the people who are alleged to have been directing the police to the various homesteads.

According to a source, there were heated moments during the meeting when the less than five police officers, allegedly told the residents that they were simply doing their job, which is searching for the alleged serial rapist.

The police are further said to have advised residents to direct their complaints to the Siphofaneni Station Comman- der.

Community headman Ncuku Gamedze confirmed meeting residents and police after the search.

"Yes, some residents did lay a complaint that they were assaulted and tortured by the police during the search over the weekend.

"I cannot clearly remember the actual day of the meeting but I can confirm that some police officers were present," he said.

Gamedze also confirmed that the police advised the residents to direct their complaints to the Siphofaneni Station Commander.

Gamedze said there is nothing the umphakatsi could do to assist the residents concerning the issue, adding that residents should show cooperation in the quest to find the suspected serial rapist.

He urged all residents under the Vikizijula umphakasti to cooperate when police conduct door-to-door search.

When sought for comment, Police Public Relations Officer Superintendent Wendy Hleta said she would not comment on the issue as she had earlier said they were still investigating the matter.

Masina has been on the police most wanted list since the last week of November 2011 after the police issued a public alert for him.

Residents now afraid to assist the police

SITEKI - Some residents of Phonjwane and surrounding areas, say they are now scared to assist the police.

These are some of those who allege they were tortured by police who were searching for alleged serial rapist Bhekinkhosi ‘Scarface’ Masina.

They vowed that they would not call the police if they see the most-wanted suspect.

They said they resorted to this attitude because they were scared that the police would torture them again should they arrive and find that the serial rapist had fled.

A resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he was now scared of the police.

"After the weekend incident, I am scared of the police.

"I have resolved never to call them should I see somebody who looks like the suspected serial rapist because if they arrive and do not find the rapist, they will torture me," said the resid- ent.

Another resident decried the alleged police behaviour, saying it did not show respect for them.

"They do not show respect for us. Yes, we have heard that there are people allegedly housing the serial rapist but that does not mean that they should go house to house assaulting innocent people," said the resident.

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