S. African pathologist rips police Uncontrolled killing of blacks alleged

July 27, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- The country's most prominent independent pathologist, a strong supporter of President Frederik W. de Klerk, charged yesterday that the South African police are "totally out of control" and are killing at least one black suspect a week.

"The killing goes on and on and on," said Dr. Jonathan Gluckman, who said that he has examined the bodies of about 200 victims of police torture in the past few years. "I don't know how to stop it. I don't think the government knows how to stop it."

The accusations by the Johannesburg pathologist, who went public after repeated private appeals to Mr. de Klerk and senior government officials went unheeded, were the latest in a series of attacks on the credibility of South Africa's national law enforcement agency.

A spokesman for Law and Order Minister Hernus Kriel said yesterday that the department "regards this matter very seriously." And, in response to Dr. Gluckman's accusations, the minister has ordered an internal report on every death in police custody for the last two years.

The allegations are certain to embarrass the government and to increase pressure on Mr. de Klerk to restart constitutional negotiations that will give the voteless black majority a role in supervising the police.

An independent British specialist, Peter Waddington, director of criminal justice studies at Reading University in England, was invited recently by the South African police to assess their investigation of last month's Boipatong massacre.

He concluded last week that the investigation was "woefully inadequate" and "incompetent."

Dr. Gluckman, 77, said that he decided to go public and open his files to reporters after examining the body of 19-year-old Simon Mthimkulu, who was arrested by police in Sebokeng last Sunday afternoon and died hours later.

"That finished me off," Dr. Gluckman said. "It was so horrifying. Here was a young boy who had done nothing. He was an onlooker.

"And police chasing car thieves had picked him up and beaten him to death," Dr. Gluckman charged.

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