Union wants probe into cop’s cell death

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IOL jun 1 IOL police_badge_sep 19 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS .

Johannesburg - The murder of a police officer in an East Rand police station needs to be investigated, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said on Tuesday.

Warrant Officer Lennox Phathumzi Latha was responding to a call from the police cells on Sunday when he was strangled with a piece of a blanket.

“The sequence of events... raise serious questions about what really took place on the fateful evening. We are conducting our own investigation,” spokesman Theto Mahlakoana said in a statement.

“We would like the SA Police Service to answer how an officer could be killed at a station where a number of other officers were on duty. We'd also like to know how the inmates managed to walk out of the premises unnoticed.”

On Monday, Colonel Noxolo Kweza said when Latha went to second cell gate he was attacked by inmates, who strangled him with a blanket cut into pieces.

The inmates then took the keys to the cell, and threw his body into a toilet in the cells.

By the time Latha's colleague realised what had happened, two of the inmates had escaped, while another two were still in the holding cell.

The two escapees were initially arrested on car hijacking charges.

Kweza said police were investigating whether the other two inmates were also involved in the murder.

Mahlakoana said the union was “disheartened” by the killing. - Sapa

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