Cops assaulted me until I defecated, woman tells inquest

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AN inquest in the death of an armed robbery suspect allegedly shot while in custody opened yesterday at the Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court with his girlfriend testifying that she was assaulted by cops until she defecated.

STAFF REPORTER

Shepherd Mhizha’s relatives applied for an inquest into his death at the High Court and the case is now being presided over by Bulawayo magistrate Crispen Mberewere.

His girlfriend Sanele Hlongwane told the inquest that she knew him as Stephen Hungwe and that she was taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station after his arrest.

“Two armed police officers came to me with Hungwe (Mhizha), who had blood stains and bruises on his body,” she said. “They asked me if I knew him. One officer by the name Chifamba asked for my name and before I could answer he struck me with a heavy blow on the face.

“He further assaulted me and told me if I wanted to run away from the beatings I might as well jump through the window.”

Hlongwane claimed three other cops joined Chifamba in assaulting her using sticks and a plank.

“They beat me up for a long time until I defecated on myself,” she said.

Hlongwane said the cops went to Mhizha and asked him why he was not telling them what they wanted.

“Chifamba picked a plank stool and assaulted him with it until all the planks it’s made of broke while he was in leg irons,” she said.

The woman said she was kept at the station until morning and then thrown into a cell with other suspects without being allowed to clean herself. She later asked for some water which a policewoman gave her and she washed her trousers and cleaned herself. She remained naked until her clothes were dry.

Hlongwane said she was then taken from the cell into a room upstairs where some plainclothes cops produced a statement indicating that on July 2 2011 she and Mhizha went to a house in Kumalo, Bulawayo, and robbed a family of $6 000 and other goods, but she refused to sign.

“They asked me to give them my statement on how I know the deceased and they typed the information. I then signed it,” she said.

A few minutes later some cops allegedly came with Mhizha in the trailer of a vehicle and he was limping.

“Chifamba came carrying a paper bag with pistols. He said to me ‘here is the evidence that your fiancé is a criminal’. The other cops came and told us that we must go home,” she said.

Before they could go, Hlongwane said they were ordered to clean the vehicle that came with Mhizha.

“The car had blood stains which showed that the now deceased was seriously injured. After that we were told to go.”

She said she went back to the police station the next day to see Mhizha, but was allegedly warned against informing his relatives that he was badly injured. When she went back to the police station to enquire about Mhizha, she was told to leave.

She said she only knew of Mhizha’s death when she asked her sister at the United Bulawayo Hospitals to ask a funeral parlour worker to check among names of deceased then confirmed that Mhizha’s name was among them.

Hlongwane said her lawyer called and told her that her life was in danger. She then fled to South Africa and only returned after being told of the High Court application for the ongoing inquest.

Mhizha was previously convicted on an armed robbery charge before the alleged one which led to his death.

In 2005, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison together with two accomplices, who died in prison.

He did time at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, but escaped after a bogus Harare lawyer George Simbi (29) secured his release together with eight other suspected armed robbers and carjackers in 2009 using fake High Court release orders.

After his release, he allegedly committed several armed robberies in Bulawayo’s affluent suburbs getting away with mostly cash and jewellery.

Mhizha was shot dead by the police after allegedly cocking a gun at a bushy area near Khami Dam during police indications.