Authorities are investigating the unusual circumstances in which a teenage detainee died with gruesome injuries to his face inside a holding cell with a fellow suspect.

The body of 18-year-old Gerdo Karelse was found on Monday at the Beaufort West police station when the holding cells were inspected.


According to unconfirmed reports‚ Karelse was found lying naked behind a cell door‚ with his lips missing and teeth lying scattered around him.

Police spokesman Captain Malcolm Pojie said Karelse had spent the night behind bars after being arrested for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and malicious damage to property.


He added that the man who was sharing the cell with Karelse‚ 29-year-old Zuko Mqungquthu‚ was charged with his murder and has already appeared in court

“Mr Mqungquthu will be remanded in custody until he will appear for his bail application on 5 July.

“At the time of the murder‚ he was being detained on a charge of domestic violence‚” Pojie said.

“I cannot mention anything further but I can say that the deceased was found with extensive and multiple facial wounds‚” he added.

The circumstances around the death were described to TMG Digital as “a first for the Western Cape” by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

Ipid spokesman Robbie Raburabu said the police watchdog was not investigating the murder itself‚ but rather the “circumstances of the murder”.

“Our focus at the moment is to look at the circumstances in which an individual died while in police custody‚” he said.

“We need to determine whether or not there was an instance of police negligence‚ police misconduct and do various safety checks.

“While murders within cells have decreased in recent months‚ the particulars of this murder are extremely rare. It is most likely a first for the Western Cape‚” said Raburabu. – TMG Digital

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