Accused with links to KZN taxi massacre claims 'he was badly beaten by police'
A KwaZulu-Natal man with suspected links to the Colenso taxi killings that resulted in the deaths of 12 people has claimed that police beat him while in custody.
The 35-year-old man, who cannot be named while sensitive investigations continue, appeared before Magistrate Thembinkosi Ngema in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Wednesday.
Speaking on the accused's behalf, lawyer Nolwazi Malimela revealed that her client had been detained in Vryheid and not Sydenham where he was arrested.
She argued that there was prejudice against him.
"Why is it imperative for him to be detained in Vryheid? I could not locate my client. I was informed he was in Vryheid because there would be further charges, but there have been none yet."
Malimela added that his detainment in Vryheid made it difficult for his family to see him. She also made claims of police brutality.
"The accused said he was badly beaten by police. He has not seen a district surgeon or a doctor. He says he was forced to make a statement. He is detained in Vryheid and too far for him to be visited. Ever since his incarceration, his family cannot see him."
However, prosecutor Patrick Magoda said the accused's family lived in Greytown, about 200km south of Vryheid.
"This is not that far your worship. There are also no visible wounds on the accused."
He added that the accused had previous convictions and that the State would likely proceed with further charges as investigations intensify.
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"He has previous convictions. There is the likelihood that in a few days we intend to charge him on another matter that occurred elsewhere. If he is given bail, he might flee," Magoda said.
On Saturday, July 21, a minibus taxi from Gauteng was travelling from a funeral at Ematimatolo back to Johannesburg along the R74 between Colenso and Weenen when it was ambushed by a group of gunmen.
Eleven people were declared dead at the scene, while one more person died in hospital.
The accused was found days later in the Sydenham area in illegal possession of 73 rounds of AK-47 ammunition.
He will return to court on August 6 for his formal bail application.
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