Pathologist accuses South African police Security forces torture and kill prisoners, he says.

July 27, 1992|By New York Times News Service

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa -- Claims by the country's most prominent independent pathologist that police are guilty of a pattern of torturing and killing prisoners have added fuel to African National Congress accusations that security forces are fomenting violence to support white rule.

The pathologist, Dr. Jonathan Gluckman, opened his files on more than 200 cases of prisoners who died in police custody and said they showed a police force "totally out of control."

"Ninety percent of the people in these files, I am convinced, were killed by the police," he said.

It was not clear over how long a time period the 200 cases occurred.

The most recent case, the pathologist said, was the death on Thursday of a man from the black township of Sebokeng who was found dead of suffocation at the police station hours after being arrested at his home.

Dr. Gluckman, who is 77, is a consulting pathologist who was called in by families of victims to review police autopsies for nearly three decades.

He has testified for families in many cases, including the 1977 inquest into the death in police custody of the black leader Steve Biko.

But Dr. Gluckman's accusations yesterday, published in the Sunday Times of Johannesburg were the first time he had gone beyond giving evidence in individual cases to accuse the police of systematic brutality.

The charges came at a time when South African security forces are under siege.

The ANC has said the government must take steps to control the police and punish excesses before talks on the country's political future can resume.

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