Security guard’s mother believes police killed her son in custody
MASERU – The family of a 28 year old security officer who died at the hands of police over the weekend has been left in agony and frustration with unanswered questions.
Tšeliso Sekonyela was a security guard for BB Alert Security company, he was deployed at a liquor store at Lesia in Ha Thetsane, Maseru, and arrested after some alcohol went missing.
Sekonyela’s mother, ‘Makabelo Sekonyela, relives her ordeal in a quest to find out what happened to her son after she learnt that he had been arrested on Thursday 2 September, 2021.
“I am told my son had been working night shift and had just knocked off when his security boss came for him at his place at Matamong in Ha Thetsane and took him to Thetsane police station to give his statement after it was discovered that there was a break in.” she says
Here is a timeline of heartbreaking events in ‘Makabelo’s words as a mother looked desperately for her son while police first lied to her and then simply ignored her.
THURSDAY 2 SEPTEMBER – THE ARREST
My son was arrested in the morning, but I only got to know about the arrest late in the evening, hence I could only get to see him the next morning.
FRIDAY 3 SEPTEMBER – “I WILL BREAK YOUR RIBS”
When I arrived at the police station on Friday morning, one of the officers called him out from the holding cell. He told my son to tell me why he had been arrested and said I should reprimand him.
He then told him in my presence that he was going “to break his ribs”.
As our faces met, I could tell that he had been assaulted and he confirmed it. I was very frustrated and feared for his life. I was very uncomfortable leaving him there, but I had no choice. I then came back again at 5.00 pm.
When I arrived I was denied to see him because his wife had already come to visit him, but he was told that I had left him some apples.
I sat outside not knowing what to do. At around 5.50pm I went to the nearby bus stop as I was about to leave, but another police officer who had just come in, let the suspects out and my son saw me and asked that I be called.
He asked me to find him a lawyer because he was being assaulted, but I told him that it wasn’t going to be easy because it was already late and on a Friday.
He also told me that his wife had been denied access to see him. I then left,
SATURDAY 4 SEPTEMBER- THE WAITING AND THE LIES
On Saturday morning I went to check on him again and this time around I didn’t go into the station because I already knew that I was going to be denied access to see him.
I waited for 8.00 a.m which is a time at which all those in the holding cell are let out to freshen up.
08:00 SATURDAY – SUSPECTS NOT LET OUT
At 8.00 am the suspects were not let out. The police officer who had vowed to break his ribs the day before called me in to be assisted because he was not on duty and had just come to do something.
I was then told that there was no specific time at which the suspects were let out so I should just leave his food. I left the food but decided to sit outside the station hoping that I would get to see my son.
MIDDAY SATURDAY – STILL NO SIGHT
At around 11am I left to find something to eat as I was starving, and by 12 pm I was back. I found my daughter-in-law already seated outside and I asked that she try her luck and ask to see her husband.
She was then told that she would see her husband at 5.00pm. But she had to leave to go to work at 13.00pm.
I left around 14:00 to look for food again and came back around 4.00 pm to wait for 5.00pm.
SATURDAY 1700PM – ONE SAYS
HE WAS RELEASED, ANOTHER SAYS HE IS IN HOSPITAL
When the suspects were let out my son was nowhere in sight. I asked where my son was, and was told that he had been released during the day, but that didn’t make sense.
Given the bad reception that I had received each time I went to see my son, I accepted whatever answer I was given without questioning, I then left and went to my son’s place to see if he was there, but he wasn’t there.
Deep down I could feel that I was being lied to, so I called home to check if he had arrived, but he was not there.
I then went back to the police station and was referred to another officer who had been on duty during the day, and he told me that my son had been taken to Tšepong hospital.
At this, I asked this police officer why they didn’t tell me earlier and he just apologized and drove off, leaving me standing there puzzled.
Another police officer told me not to go to hospital because I would not be allowed to see my son. This didn’t make sense so I called someone working at the hospital to confirm and they said I should just go and see my son. It was however already late and raining, so I decided to go the next morning.
SUNDAY 5 SEPTEMBER – HOSPITAL CONFIRMS POLICE BROUGHT HIM AND SIGNED FOR HIM
Upon arrival at the hospital, my son was not there.
I was then told to go back to the police station and ask for the commanding officer who would then assist me, but that was all in vain.
At the hospital reception I was given a number to call, I was told that the owner of that number would have all the answers I needed pertaining to the whereabouts of my son.
The number belonged to a police officer who had signed for my son. He asked me who gave me his number, and he said I should go and meet his boss.
I then asked that some of the people who were accompanying me should go and check in the mortuary because my suspicions were very strong that my son had died.
Shortly my fears were confirmed, my son was dead; police had killed my son.”
With a heavy heart, ’Makabelo Sekonyela says it is hard to accept that her son has died such a brutal death.
“It’s my first time to see that police officers can be so heartless even when someone has died at their hands. How could they let me sit there the whole time and not tell me the truth? Their consciences are dead!”
My son didn’t deserve to die that way. They should have done a background check on him and they would find that he couldn’t have stolen from his boss. My son just didn’t have to die.
“I have always heard people saying the innocent die because they fail to incriminate themselves but it never made sense to me. Today I know what that means. I am leaving everything to God and I know that He shall avenge my son’s death who was mercilessly killed,” broke down ’Makabelo.
Director Human Resource of BB Alert Matšeliso Nthebe said they were very disappointed in the police handling of this matter.
We have always had good working relations with them whenever we have similar cases and in this one we feel betrayed because we were not given a chance to make our own investigations.
“This has really weakened and saddened us because we couldn’t even go to the deceased’s home to report as we were in the dark of what had really transpired that led to his death.” says Nthebe
Nthebe says the company was not afforded the opportunity to work on the case, and when Sekonyela was taken to the police, BB Alert still expected that he would be released.
“This is a man who was in a good state of health when he was taken to the police station and now that he is dead we don’t even know what to think. What is even more disturbing is that we were told that a postmortem would be done on Wednesday and now we have just been informed by one family member that they were called on Monday and rushed to oversee it on Monday,” said Nthebe.
Police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli said they were still busy with investigations into into Sekonyela’s death.