Athlone police say that Ikeraam Williams died in a police holding cell. Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - The family of an Athlone man, who they say died under mysterious circumstances in police holding cells, are demanding answers.

They are denying the police’s claim that Ikeraam Williams, 44, died of a fit, saying he was not sick.

Police told the family they arrested Williams on Friday, but his wife says he was at home until Saturday morning.

They could also not tell the family what Williams was arrested for.

Ikeraam’s widow, Amiena Williams, 46, says her husband’s face and body were unrecognisable when she got to the Salt River Morgue on Sunday.

“I could not recognise him, neither could his own mother. His face was so swollen. We only identified him from old scars on his shoulder and arm where he had had previous operations,” she says.

A shocked Amiena says on Saturday morning, Williams left the house to look for a job.

Williams’s janaazah was held on Monday, and a sombre mood hung over the family’s home in Kewtown when his body arrived.

“They said he had been picked up and was in the cells since Friday, but how could that be? On Saturday he left the home at 9.30am and he still had tea before he left.

“He said he was going to look for a job,” an emotional Amiena explains.

The pair were married for 20 years.

Athlone Police Station Picture: Jack Lestrade/ANA

“Athlone police are giving us different stories. First, the detective called Williams’s friend to say he had passed away after he had a fit.

“What fit? If he had a fit, why did they take him to the cells and not to the hospital? Then the officers are saying he asked for water and 20 minutes after they came back, he had died.

“They said he had a small hole in his head and part of his face was swollen, but that was not what I saw at the morgue.”

But police watchdog, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), says Williams was a criminal who was caught breaking into a house.

Following a Daily Voice query, spokesman Moses Dlamini said police found Williams face down on the property, and Ipid is trying to find out whether it was the homeowner or police who beat him up.

“The deceased was arrested for breaking into a house. He had injuries on the scene and was found face down on the property,” says Dlamini.

“He was arrested by SAPS, transported to (Athlone) Police Station and walked into the station on his own.

“He was in the temporary holding cell while SAPS were busy processing him and then they found him dead. Pathologists were on scene and post-mortem will be conducted today.

“We are trying to establish if he was assaulted by the homeowner before police arrived or if he was assaulted by SAPS or if his injuries are from the fall on his face.”