By Karabo Rammutla
Eric Marakalala appeared in the Mamelodi Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday morning on charges of attempted murder – and died that afternoon in police custody.
Gauteng police spokesperson, Colonel Mavela Masondo, confirmed his death, stating that the suspect passed away in the police cells on Tuesday, 6 June.
Marakalala, 55, was accused of dousing his former girlfriend, Lindiwe Zitha, with petrol and setting her alight in Mamelodi last Thursday.
It was revealed that Zitha had obtained a protection order against Marakalala, citing his history of abuse.
Lindiwe was the sister of Khabo Zitha, a notable Banyana Banyana star. Marakalala was apprehended after a nurse recognised him when he sought medical attention at a clinic in Mamelodi East.
He had sustained injuries to his hands and neck.
During the incident, Lindiwe’s brother also suffered minor burns as he tried to intervene between the couple.
Masondo stated that the suspect had complained of pain while in custody, prompting the police to call an ambulance but paramedics declared him dead in the holding cells.
According to Masondo an inquest docket has been opened, and a postmortem will be conducted to determine the cause of death.
The incident has sparked a further investigation and raised questions regarding the circumstances surrounding Marakalala’s death.
Authorities will work to uncover the facts and ensure a thorough examination of the case.
Pictured above: Lindiwe Zitha