The alleged killing of a 34-year-old man Nigerian man by a police officer has sparked a massive protest in Nigerian community living in Gauteng Province, South Africa.
According to Mathew Okafor, the Chairman of the Nigeria Union in Gauteng Provinc, was allegedly suffocated with a cellophane bag by the police after his arrest at 9am. The incident took place at Kempton Park in Ekulurheni Municipality, Gauteng Province.
Mr. Okafor said: “We suspect that Chinedu died of suffocation. That is why Nigerians in the province mobilised and staged a protest against this extra-judicial killing. The South African police is alleging that he died after ingesting drugs but a Nigerian witnessed the entire incident and reported it to us. The case has been handed over to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) that investigates police misconduct in South Africa.
We have been given the contacts of key persons that we need to be talking to as this investigation proceeds so that we can monitor the development. An autopsy is being carried out and we are waiting for the coroner’s report. We have also reported this incident to the national body of Nigeria Union and Nigerian Mission in South Africa. We have also gotten the contacts of the relatives of the deceased and we have duly informed them of the tragedy.”
Ikechukwu Anyene, the President of Nigeria Union in South Africa, confirmed the incident and called on the Fedearl Government to persuade the South African government to investigate the continued killings of Nigerians by the police.
“We take exception to the continued torture of Nigerians by the South African police. The union believes that there is the due process to follow after a suspect is arrested instead of resorting to torture. We also want to state that the Nigerian did not die of drug ingestion as being alleged by the South African police,” he said.
However, police officials refused the allegations, claiming the man was arrested for drugs possession and swallowed them to avoid punishment. Robbie Raburabu, a spokesman for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, commented on the incident:
“According to police officers that were involved, the man was in possession of drugs but swallowed them before the officers could arrest him. He was convulsing and the officers rushed him to the nearest hospital to try to save his life but he died inside a police vehicle.”
Meanwhile, Uche Ajulu-Okeke, Nigeria’s Consul General to South Africa, has promised to thoroughly investigate the incident and present a report to the Federal Government. She also asked Nigerians to remain law abiding and report any incident to the union or the mission.