South Africa: 'She Was Found Hanging in the Police Cell' - Sex Worker Dies in Police Custody


A 39-year-old sex worker died in police custody in April this year. Now, two investigations have been opened into her death by alleged suicide. She is the 12th person to die following police action during the lockdown.

The death of sex worker Elma Robyn Montsumi at Mowbray police station in April this year has raised alarm bells amongst LGBTQI activists.

A joint statement calling for an investigation into her case was issued by the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT), Sisonke, the National Movement of Sex Workers and the Triangle Project.

"The news of Robyn's death is devastating. We knew her as a passionate activist aware of her rights. Those who interacted with her prior to her arrest remember her as being upbeat, and the reports of an apparent suicide are baffling," the statement read.

The 39-year-old Montsumi was arrested on 9 April at around 5pm for suspected drug possession. She was allegedly found with 'unga', a highly addictive heroin-based drug.

She was held for four days before allegedly committing suicide on 12 April. Montsumi was apparently not allowed visitors while in custody.

According to the joint statement, the deceased's partner and some of her friends found a way...

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