A couple gunned down outside a court in Johannesburg, South Africa, on November 8 have been named as Zimbabweans Sicelubuhle Moyo and her partner Wilfred Dube.
Moyo, who worked as a domestic worker, had been due to testify at the Randburg Magistrates Court against four police officers accused of her torture.
One of Moyo’s former employers described her as a “very special human being” who was fighting for justice.
“She was an unbelievably lovely lady, unbelievably strong with a great character. It was an absolute pleasure to have her in our house and we trusted her implicitly with our children,” the former employer told the Sowetan newspaper.
The incident that led to her torture involved a 2018 armed robbery at a house where she was working as a domestic worker. Police arrested her and accused her of involvement in the robbery.
“She went through absolute hell,” her former employer recounted. “She was accused falsely of being part of the robbery.
“Even if we assume the police just made an honest mistake, what transpired next was just ridiculously beyond atrocious. She, as the record will state, was imprisoned and put in jail and then she was taken to an undisclosed location and tortured to the point where most people would have died but she went through the ordeal and came back to being her usual self within a short time. She was probably one of the strongest people I ever met, both physically and emotionally.”
The four police officers accused of torturing her face charges of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. They are Moleke Makgatho, Katudi Masemane, Sylvester Chuene, and Mariri Mashupe.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate, which investigated the incident, accused the officers of “intentionally committing an act of torture by inflicting severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, on Sicelubuhle Moyo by tying her onto a table by her ankles, waist and hands, covering her face with a cloth and forcing water into her mouth and nose.
“The accused tortured her for the purpose of obtaining information or a confession from her and/or punishing her for an act she was suspected of committing and/or intimidated or coerced her to do or to refrain from doing anything, to wit, instructing her to tell them the truth about a house robbery incident and disclose the identities of the other perpetrators.”
The four police officers were ordered to hand in their mobile phones, work and private firearms, and be subjected to gunpowder residue tests following the double killing. This was after the prosecution to secure the necessary evidence to help police with their preliminary investigations into the double murder.
Phindi Mjonondwane, a spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, said: “We do take the safety of witnesses very seriously, but we can only act once information is brought to our attention as the prosecution, and an assessment of the threat is carried out. Unfortunately no safety concerns had been raised by this witness.”
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