South Africa: Human rights violations and the security forces - a problem of accountability: case study: the death in custody of Mbuyiselo "Nixon" Phiri
This paper provides information on the death in custody on 16 January 1990 (the day of his arrest) of 16-year-old Mbuyiselo "Nixon" Phiri at Welverdiend police station in the western Transvaal. In a statement to the press about the circumstances of his death, the police claimed that Nixon Phiri had suffered an epileptic seizure during interrogation. However, the testimony of youths detained with him (including that of Thomas Tshabalala, later shot dead by police) strongly indicates that he died as a result of torture. A private post mortem examination on 19 January 1990 indicated that Nixon Phiri had died of a brain haemorrhage associated with external injuries. In early 1991 an inquest, effectively held in secret, found that the cause of his death was unknown.