DURBAN, South Africa – Yet another man has lost his life allegedly at the hands of the police, sparking unrest in Ulundi, in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
Lindani Madondo, 31, a taxi driver, died a week ago after he was apparently beaten by police, who accused him of being in possession of an unlicensed firearm.
According to the family, Madondo was asleep with his girlfriend and his two children when police arrived in the early hours of the morning.
Police isolated him from the family, allegedly tortured and beat him until he fell unconscious, the family said. He was then rushed to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
The incident sparked unrest in the community. Members blockaded the main R66 road in Ulundi with burning tyres and damaged cars with stones, calling for the implicated police to be fired.
Madondo was described as a “cool” driver who would give a ride even to those who were short on the fare.
His father, Abel Dludla, a rank manager, pleaded for justice for his son and called for swift action against those implicated.
He said his son was the sole provider to his kids and family – he lived a simple life and he was admired by passengers.
“The police have not told us who instructed them as the station commander denied knowing anything about it. This has brought pain and suffering to my family.
“Lindani is survived by his two kids, who are still very young. He was a sole provider. He did not deserve to die like this.
“I have never thought he would carry an unlicensed firearm. He used to warn his younger brother about weapons and jail,” he said.
Dludla said he also wants to be compensated by the state and urged the police to fast-track the investigation before the community resort to further violent protest in search for justice.
Sphamandla Ntombela, a community leader, said police brutality was common practice in rural areas because people did not know their rights.
“In ensuring justice for Madondo, the government must respond to police brutality. Police nowadays use their powers for wrong reasons and the community has lost confidence in them,” said Ntombela.
Ndileka Cola, police watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson, said the investigation process has started, but according to the pathologist findings in terms of the cause of death was natural causes.
She said Ipid met community leaders and resolved to seek the services of a private pathologist to ascertain the cause of death and the directorate would be attending a second post-mortem.
“Ipid continues with the normal investigation process which includes acquiring relevant witness statements, technical reports and upon completion a comprehensive report will be sent to DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) for a final decision,” she said.
Police have been heavily criticised for using excessive force resulting in the death of citizens whom they employed to safeguard them.
According to Ipid, more than 42000 complaints have been made against the police between 2012 and last year, including those of rapes, killings, and torture.
This week, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Jennifer Ntlatseng, executive director for Ipid, launched a new toll-free number.
The toll-free number would centralise the communication system, to ensure maximum and free access to the directorate’s service to the citizens of this country, Cele said.
He said since the country moved to national lockdown level 1, there were reports of the increased number of gender-based violence against women and femicide cases. This also spiked complaints of lack of assistance by police levelled by some communities concerning the handling of criminal cases as well as the commitment of the directorate to deal with gender-related issues.
The toll-free number would ensure that no alleged police misconduct goes unreported due to lack of access or resources.
Cola would not respond to the allegations that excessive force was commonly used by police in search of unlicensed firearms in rural areas.