The whereabouts of a suspect who allegedly stabbed a 35-year-old man to death in the Gatvol informal settlement in Heidedal at the weekend, is currently still unknown. The suspect escaped from hospital after being apprehended by the community.
A resident of Gatvol, who called Bloemfontein Courant to complain about the Heidedal Police’s handling of the incident, said when the police arrived on the scene, they put the suspect in the ambulance without putting handcuffs on him.
“The police did not cuff or guard the suspect, which we found strange. The family of the deceased then visited the station during the week as they wanted to open a case of negligence, but were shown the door and sent to the offices of the Community Policing Forum (CPF),” says the resident.
Police spokesperson, Motantsi Makhele, says it is alleged that the suspect and the deceased engaged in an argument, during which the deceased was fatally stabbed.
“When the police arrived at the informal settlement, the community did not give their cooperation, had beaten the alleged suspect and fought with the police and emergency health care workers on the scene,” says Makhele.
According to him, police had to work hard to bring the situation under control, whilst the ambulance had to rush from the scene due to the volatile situation at the time.
Makhele says after the scuffle between the community and police, they realised that the alleged suspect had already been taken to hospital by the ambulance. The police went to the hospital afterwards for a possible arrest, only to be told that the alleged suspect left the hospital immediately after the ambulance dropped him off.
Makhele says members who attended the scene didn’t get an opportunity to investigate and confirm if the man assaulted was indeed a suspect, due to the fact that community members were unruly and disrupted the process. He also disputes claims that the family of the deceased were sent to the CPF offices by police officers.
“Under no circumstances will the station commander refer the community to the CPF offices for crime related matters. This only happens if the station is temporarily closed for decontamination.”
He encourages the community not to take the law into their own hands as this interferes with the investigation and makes it difficult for police to gather all the information needed to positively link the suspect to the crime.
The contact details of the station management is on the wall at the entrance of the Heidedal Police Station for access by community in case they want to report or escalate any incidents to management.