That barbarian methods of torturing are used by police is one hundred percent correct. I can personally testify to this.
On 10 December 2002, I, Wilhelm Pretorius, a 25 year old student, was arrested on political and especially weapons-related charges, including high treason and conspiracy to a coup d’ état.
The charges were essentially similar to those for which a group of ANC-members consisting of most current South African Members of Parliament were charged during the apartheid years.
I was arrested at 20h00 (8:00 pm) in a park in Pretoria while it was drizzling. My hands were tied behind my back with thick, strong plastic cables, in such a way that the blood supply to my hands was denied. For approximately two hours I lay on the ground on my stomach. During this time, one of the policemen came and stood on my neck.
After approximately two hours, Captain Johan Vice took me to a Venture vehicle belonging to the police that had dark-tinted windows. When I got into the vehicle,which was driven by a white woman, Capt Vice was seated directly behind me, and one Lotter, another policeman, on the right-hand side of the seat behind mine. My hands were still tightly bound, so that my hands were already feeling numb. The next thing I knew was Capt Vice throwing his shirt over my head and pulling it back sharply, with the obvious intention of strangling me. I struggled violently and managed to free my head from the shirt, totally dazed by what had just happened.
I still was not prepared for the barbarism that would follow. He pulled the shirt over my eyes to blind me. Capt Vice is approximately 2 m (6’6”) tall. He is a large man with massive hands. With his gigantic hands, he grabbed me around my throat, pushing in my Adam’s apple to shut off my windpipe so that I simply could not breathe. I squirmed and struggled, but his hands were firmly anchored around my throat, like the paws of a lion around the throat of an impala.
I struggled for breath so vehemently that I eventually landed on the middle seat of the Venture.
I was now virtually lying on his lap, with my hands still bound behind my back. Using his fist, he repeatedly hit me on the side of my face asking where my brothers were. At that stage, they were still wanted by the police for the same case. This process continued for a long time. He also forcefully pushed his finger into my ear.
At one stage, we stopped next to the road Vice threatened that if I would try to remove the shirt from my eyes, he would kill me. He said to me that he had made special arrangements for a so called “Kaffir” (black man) to rape me. “They have been craving nice white flesh for quite some time now,” he sneered.
Somebody with alcohol on his breath then bent over me, as I was lying on the middle seat of the Venture, while the door was open. This person spoke in isiZulu and repeatedly tampered with my trousers and my belt. He also repeatedly slapped me in the face. I did not understand what he was saying. Sometimes he spoke near to me so that I could smell the odour of alcohol on his stinking breath. I later recognized the person from his voice as one of the policemen who much later interrogated me again. Again I was hit on the side of my face by Capt Vice, again and again. I was also repeatedly asked if I were a “virgin,” referring to the fact that I was going to be raped. This was continuously repeated to me.
They then took me out of the car and made me lie on a plastic sheet next to the road. It sounded to me as if it were a deserted place. I was still blindfolded and could not see where I was. The plastic cables started cutting into the flesh of my arms and my hands were totally numb, Capt Vice came and sat on me and forced a rubbery piece of material over my mouth and nose. I could get no breath. I initially kicked and struggled, but quickly realized that it only caused me to waste more breath. This process continued while they shouted and swore at me.
I lay on my numb hands and gasped for breath. Sometimes I just gave up and let go so that I could die, at other times I just saw stars before my eyes. My lungs felt as if they would burst, while my whole body was exhausted from being deprived of oxygen.
They continued cursing me and threatening to kill me. “Didn’t you sh** in your pants yet?” and other similar remarks were shouted at me.
During the struggle I landed on my stomach after having rid myself of the blindfold. I could then see who the savage was who had carried out his barbarian acts on me. The same man came and sat on me. He put the inner tube over my mouth and nose, and pulled my neck backwards, using brute force. Every second it felt as if my neck would break. I was helpless and could not do anything except endure it. I got no breath, my whole back and neck felt as if they would break at any moment.
There were times when I just gave up and thought to myself that if my neck had to be broken, then let it be. Initially I struggled against this murderer with all my power, but later I just gave up and let go. “If my neck breaks now, it would at least be the end of this hell,” I found myself thinking.
I then relaxed my whole body so that my neck could break. I was to find out afterwards that one of the AWB men, Phil Kloppers, who is still in jail today in a wheelchair, had been paralyzed by similar police torture.
After this session, the person stood on my lower back while he violently forced my hands upwards. It felt as if my arms were being torn out of their sockets. My head was against the ground, and my neck was stretched in such a way that once again I could not breathe. This continued the whole time while they yelled questions at me about where my brothers were, how we communicated, and when I was supposed to see them again.
I did not know where they were and had to think up a story of how we communicated and where they were, in order to get them to allow me some rest. They did not allow me any rest, however. After this torture session, my shoulders hurt so much that I could not lift them. For two weeks afterwards, I was unable to lift my arms above my shoulders, and two years afterwards, my shoulder still gave me problems during exercises. My torturer had completely strained my shoulder ligaments
I again landed on my back and was again suffocated with the rubber inner tube. At one stage, this was replaced by a plastic sheet. He then also repeatedly rubbed his knuckles violently on my breastbone. After I breathed for a moment, he would pick me up and put me on my feet. Approximately 8-10 times he hit me in the stomach with full force, so that I fell to the ground.
There was an unknown grey-haired policeman whom I will be able to recognize, who held me while the other one beat me up. I was picked up and hit in the stomach again and again.
After this session had finished, I was again blindfolded, this time with striped police barrier tape, the kind they use for roping off crime areas. This tape was wound tightly around my face. I can remember Vice and Lotter, and saw that there were two bakkies (light trucks) While this episode lasted, I heard them opening beer cans. In the bakkie there were a lot of empty beer cans.
They put me in the car again, finally believing that I would meet my brothers that night and that they would hide a message for me or I would hide one for them under a stone at an old fort which I knew well. We then drove to the fort, but they did not stop torturing me. On the way there, Capt Vice hit me on the elbow with the butt of his pistol and again hit me on the side of my face and pushed his finger into my ear. He also started hitting me on my thigh repeatedly. At that time, I had no feeling left in my hands. Even the blows to my head only made me see stars, but I actually did not feel the blows any more. The fact that I could breathe again was valuable to me.
I was lying on the middle seat of the bakkie. I heard them cocking their 9 mm pistols and running towards the fort. They shouted that they had seen tracks there and that my brothers probably were there. This was not so however, as people regularly visit that fort, and my brothers would never meet me there. We had not arranged to meet, and I did not know where they were.
We drove off again. I now promised that I would cooperate, in order to get a break to rest a little. My mind was tired, my throat bone dry, my hands were numb, and my whole being was blunted. Vice now cut off the plastic cords, using his pocket knife, and in the process, he also caused a cut in my left wrist. In spite of the fact that the cables had been removed, I still had no feeling. They bought me a Coke. My throat was so dry that the gas stuck to my throat.
We drove to their offices in the Piet Joubert building in Visagie Street. Here I was ordered to wash my face. I was startled to see my face in the mirror. My nose was covered with blood, and my face was so swollen that it looked like a pumpkin.
We walked upstairs to an office. Here, they peppered me with questions. Every time I gave an answer they did not like, they repeatedly slapped my head. Again, it was Capt Vice, Lotter, and the grey-haired policeman whose voice I recognized as the one who had pretended to be the black man who would rape me. There was a Zulu present as well. At one stage, when they started screaming at me again, they said that I had to go with the Zulu, because they knew how to make people talk.
One Colonel Van Rooyen then entered and took me aside. He had come to tell me that his father shares my views on politics. I had to cooperate with these people, though. He tried to convince me. When I asked him whether I did not have a right to remain silent, he became more aggressive and said that a criminal does not have the right to remain silent. Once a person has committed a crime, he no longer has a right to remain silent. He took me back to the others. Again they slapped me several times if they were not satisfied with the answers I provided.
One Commissioner Pruis and another commissioner then arrived. Also they peppered me with questions. We left the offices at approximately 10:00 (am). The policemen were in a jovial mood. I was not handcuffed. We got into the bakkie. It was the same bakkie in which we had driven there, and I also saw the pieces of barrier tape which they had used to blindfold me.
We then drove to Hartebeesfontein police station, approximately 300 km (200 miles) west van Pretoria. On the way there, we stopped at a liquor store in a town. The same three policemen asked me if I would go and buy liquor for them. I realized that if I did this, they could allege that I was trying to escape, and would able to shoot me dead. I refused, but tried to seem amicable.
Lotter, who sat next to me in the back, then went to buy the beer. They also gave me some beer, while they opened one beer after another. On the way to Potchefstroom, we passed through a roadblock, which made them very nervous, as they had drunk quite a lot.
My legal representative, Jaco van der Wateren in the meantime had traced me to Vice’s cell phone and I at last had an opportunity to talk to him. I also later phoned him from the police station. Vice told me that, if I cooperated nicely, they would look after me, otherwise they would “put me in with some Kaffirs.” “The Kaffirs are going to f**k you. Are you still a virgin, Willempie?” he sneeringly mocked me. When we arrived at the police station, I immediately phoned my attorney, who recommended that I file charges right away. I then made a statement without delay.
That night, I was locked up alone in an ice cold cell without being provided with any warm garments. My whole body was in a state of shock. The hairy, dirty blanket was insufficient. My neck was completely limp, and I to keep my head up was difficult. I carried my arms in front of me in a folded position, because I was unable to lift them. I started to experience a pins-and-needles feeling in my hands. I had pain-reliever tablets. My throat was so swollen from the strangulation that I could not eat anything. I could swallow with great difficulty only. I was locked up in the cell without water. I could not reach my wife on the telephone and was to learn afterwards that she had also been arrested, and one of my friends as well. I spent the night without painkillers or any other medication. Only the next morning did a policeman from Hartebeesfontein take me to a district surgeon. The DS examined me in the presence of the policeman, and I made sure that he made proper notes of all my injuries.
I was later informed that my wife’s door was kicked off while she was standing within sight of the police, phoning her attorney. They assaulted her and plucked the phone from her hand. A friend of mine who arrived on the scene was manhandled, and when he arrived at his car, he found that rivets had been shot into his tyres in order to prevent him from following them to see where they were taking my wife.
Capt Vice and Lotter still form part of the investigation team of the criminal case brought against me and others, which has been serving before a court of law for almost three years now. To date, nothing has come of the complaint filed by me. I have never yet met the investigating officer. In fact, no investigation has yet been done at all.
Au contraire, Capt Vice sits in court daily. He handles all written evidence of the accused, handles our security in jail, and is in charge of visits by our families. He sits in court daily and leers at us. Is this not a highly irregular arrangement under any legal system?
The ANC regularly complains that its members had been tortured by these monsters, yet the ANC has knowingly turned the self-same “policemen” loose upon its political opponents. Their members just turn their heads away while similar and worse violations are perpetrated against us.
This report mentions only the torture perpetrated against me personally. This does not even touch upon the refined psychic torture to which we are subjected day and night in jail.
Justice and righteousness cannot be relied upon in this country any longer. The monster of police brutality is a reality which is perpetuated by politically motivated silence.