Police officers in South Africa have been accused of choking a young Nigerian man to death while trying to extract information from him.
Nigerian Citizens Association South Africa (NICASA) on Thursday, expressed shock over alleged killing of Mr Kingsley Ezeh, by the South African Police.
President General of NICASA, Benjamin Okoli, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that Ezeh's death on Tuesday, was circumstantial in the hands of members of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD).
According to him, members of the JMPD had invaded Ezeh’s Tyre shop in the late evening of Jan. 4, where he was allegedly manhandled in the course of extracting information from him.
He alleged that the deceased was choked by the police which eventually led to his death.
Okoli said Ezeh was going about with his business, when metro police officers with unmarked black-BMW vehicle came with his brother they arrested earlier at a different location.
The NICASA boss said, “What led to the death of Ezeh on Jan. 4, remains a mystery which will be unraveled by police investigation.
“The shop is fitted with a CCTV-camera, which we believe will be instrumental and helpful in unraveling the case.
“From indication and the brother’s account, they choked the deceased for several minutes, at the same time asking him to vomit what they assumed he had swallowed; the choking caused asphyxiation.
“Two other Nigerians in the area had allegedly accused same group of Metro Police officers of attacking them only few months ago using plastic bags to cover their heads and they almost died.
“Both Nigerians maintained that nothing was found on them at the time of the attack against them; the police stopped them while driving, after searching their cars and found nothing, insisted on extorting them certain amount.”
According to him, when they refused to pay the bribe, they were attacked and almost died with the plastic used to suffocate them by the said Metro officers.
They also alleged that the Metro officers stole their cell phones and cash.
“We are currently discussing with these two Nigerians, to see how we can add their case to this death as evidence of a pattern of attack by these group of Metro Police against Nigerians.
“The Metro Police had claimed that the late Ezeh ingested substance they suspected is narcotic when they came into his shop and they claimed he had suffocated by the substance he ingested.
“Paramedics were called to the shop where he was confirmed dead on the scene; the leadership of NICASA monitored the situation and ensured that protocols are followed to secure evidence,” he added.
He noted that Ezeh’s death could be considered an unnecessary and systemic xenophobic way of killing Nigerian nationals by the members of the South African Police.
He further said that if Ezeh was a criminal but not conceding to it, the police could have arrested and prosecuted him, adding that such death was among many, whereby Nigerians were arbitrarily killed without justification.
He, however, appealed to Nigerian community to remain calm, while the association awaited result of the post mortem, in the bid to follow-up the case to logical conclusion.
Ezeh, a native of Oduma, Aninri Local Government of Enugu State, is survived by his wife and children.