Cape Town man beaten to death in police cells

A 48-year-old man arrested for being drunk in public was beaten to death in a Durbanville, Cape Town, police cell in the early hours of Saturday 21 April 2012.

The Cape Argus reports that police spokesman Andrè Traut said in a statement that Eben Meyer had been arrested during the early hours of Saturday morning for being drunk in public. Meyer was detained and placed in a cell with eight others.

“Meyer was assaulted and succumbed as a result of his injuries. Information would suggest that he had an argument with two other detainees, which led to a fight,” Traut said. The incident had occurred at around 1.30am, half-an-hour after his detention.

The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners provides in Article 9(2) that where detained persons are kept together, they must be carefully selected as being suitable to associate with one another in those conditions, and there must be regular supervision by night.

“The two suspects, who were also being detained for being drunk, are now facing a murder charge,” Traut said. “The circumstances surrounding the matter are being investigated and they are due to make a court appearance in Bellville tomorrow.”

Traut did not indicate whether any internal police investigation rgarding the apparently negligent supervision of the Durbanville police cells was being carried out.

All deaths in police custody or as a result of police action must in terms of South African law be investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

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