Chatsworth father says the arrest of 21 cops for his son’s murder is the first step in getting answers
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Durban: Every year on Regan Naidoo's birthday, his father Timothy visits his grave at the Mobeni Heights Cemetery. This May was the third time he did so and it was as painful as the first time.
Regan Naidoo died in August 2018 while in police custody. At the time he was 32 years old and living in Montford, Chatsworth.
The Independent Police Investigative Directive (Ipid) probed Naidoo’s death.
Last week, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, gave instructions for a number of policemen to be arrested. Currently, 18 have been arrested on a variety of charges including kidnapping, torture and murder. Other arrests, including that of a senior officer, are expected.
Ipid spokesperson Grace Langa said police “picked up” Naidoo on the 28th of August 2018 from a Caltex Garage on Montford Drive. Two other men who were with him, Ahmed Dawood and Fardeen Carrim, were also arrested.
Those involved in the police operation included members from the Durban K9 Unit, Durban Flying Squad, the Provincial Organised Crime unit and the Chatsworth Trio Crime unit.
According to Langa: "The men were being questioned regarding a firearm. During questioning, the deceased and the two other Indian males were assaulted by members of the SAPS. They were then taken to Chatsworth SAPS for further questioning.
"On August 29, 2018, at about 3am, the deceased collapsed at the station. He was then taken to RK Hospital in a police vehicle and, upon arrival, was declared dead."
For Timothy Naidoo, the arrests represent the first positive news he has received in his quest for justice.
He said after police arrested his son, they brought him home in handcuffs. The family claims he was slapped in front of his six-year-old daughter and pregnant wife. He was then taken away.
Naidoo said he went to the police station that same night to find out what had happened to his son but was not given any information.
At 5am the next morning he returned home to freshen up. When he got back to the police station at 8am he was told his son had died.
"An officer asked me if my son had a breathing problem or suffered from wheezing. I said no. Regan was a fit, healthy person. He never smoked or drank alcohol. I was then told that my son choked on a pie and that he died in hospital. I refused to believe this."
Naidoo was determined to fight for justice.
“I believe my son was tortured. According to a private pathologist we hired, my son died of multiple fractions. I never want another child to go through what my son went through.
Naidoo said he called Ipid almost every day to find out what progress was being made. He persevered until he was told arrests would be made.
“I know it is not going to be an easy fight, especially given that police are involved. But I will never give up. This is justice for my son and for every other child that was killed in custody.
“The police are meant to protect people, not kill them. But they have robbed my son's children of a father. His last born didn't even meet his father."
Naidoo said he owned a security and alarm installation business, which his son helped him run.
"In 2016, I went for an operation for colon cancer and my son took complete control of the business. He even took care of my wife and me and he made sure we had food on our table. I was short of nothing when he was around."
Naidoo said every year on his son's birthday, he visited his gravesite. Sometimes his daughter-in-law and granddaughter went with him.
"I try not to take my wife because it becomes too emotional for her. Sometimes, my granddaughter asks if she can be alone at the gravesite. It is her way of dealing with the loss, the only way she can feel close to her dad.
On Thursday, the first set of accused, all from the Chatsworth Trio Crimes Unit, were arrested.
They were Malcolm Naicker (39), Ugeshan Govender (39), Proshen Lutchman (30), Cedric Ian Pillay (35), Xolani Quinton Sosibo (35), Kubendran Kisten (39), Christopher Kistan (39), Idrin Maistry and Brian Naidoo (53).
This week the other nine, from various police units, were arrested.
They are Eric Morjane (44), Mlamhli Ntutuka (39), Andries Botes (46), Ralph Ogle (43), Eric Karsen (39), Muhammed Raoof (52), Pushpanthan Pillay (48), Sihle Ngidi (39) and Trevor Chetty (44).
They were each granted R3 000 bail and are expected to appear together on October 29.
On Friday morning, Langa confirmed three more policemen were charged and were expected to appear in court. She said more arrests were imminent.