The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) released a statement following the death of 35-year-old Tshegofatso Selahle, who they allege was under the influence of alcohol when he was arrested.
The statement reads that JMPD chased down an Audi A5 after running a red light on William Nicol and Sandton Drive on Saturday evening. The Audi eventually crashed into the sidewalk and landed in a park.
Officers stated that the driver, Tshegofatso Selahle, was “aggressive and resisted arrest” because he was drunk.
Selahle was then handcuffed and put inside a JMPD van, which was when he allegedly told officers he was struggling to breathe. Officers allegedly took him out of the van and called an ambulance, who declared Selahle dead at the scene.
The incident was handed to the Independent Police Investigative Directive (Ipid).
In an interview with eNCA, Selahle’s family said that police are “running away from accountability”, and that they kept changing what transpired on Saturday night.
Selahle’s sister Linda Radebe says her brother’s last words to officials were: “I can’t breathe, I need air.”
They believe Selahle was beaten and pepper-sprayed to death.
“There was no ambulance at the scene when Linda [Selahle’s partner] got there. They left the same man that was asking for air upside down,” Linda told reporters.
Ipid acting spokesperson Sontaga Seisa said that the police watchdog was “hoping to find out who exactly [has] done what”, after they traced witnesses to the incident.
(Compiled by Nica Schreuder)