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Cape Town - MPs from across the political divide have reacted angrily to a new outrage involving the South African Police Service and are demanding Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and National Commissioner General Riah Phiyega be held to account.
Two weeks after Daveyton taxi driver Mido Macia was dragged behind a police vehicle and died after allegedly being brutally beaten, a court interpreter in Molopo in the North West was seized by the neck by a police officer, who then dragged him behind a police van as it drove down the road.
A sergeant, 36, appeared in court yesterday in connection with the incident, the Independent Police Investigating Directorate (Ipid) reported.
Ipid spokesman Moses Dlamini said the victim was called over to the police vehicle after speaking to a boy who had allegedly been harassed by the same officers moments earlier.
“The driver grabbed the complainant by the neck and asked him if he knew what police were capable of these days. The policeman allegedly drove off and dragged the complainant for about 100 metres,” said Dlamini.
According to the parliamentarians the incident highlights the “crisis” in policing, and they are demanding answers from Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and National Commissioner Riah Phiyega, who stand to be hauled before Parliament’s oversight committee on policing.
Mthethwa has welcomed the arrest of the North West policeman and described the incident as an “embarrassment” to the police service.
“Such incidents are not what we want to see or want to become accustomed to in a democracy that is bound by the rule of law,” he said. Mthethwa was out of the country, on honeymoon at the time of the Macia killing and only returned to duty this week. Annelize van Wyk, the ANC MP who is acting chairwoman of the parliamentary committee on police, said yesterday she was “disgusted” by the latest incident.
“It’s especially alarming as it happened after the Daveyton incident. Any reasonable person would think that the police would have learnt their lesson … This speaks of unprofessionalism, disrespect for the country and the constitution. We can’t sit back and watch the police service going into such crisis,” she said.
Van Wyk said her committee would “not shy away” from asking Mthethwa and Phiyega to come and answer queries about problems in the police.
She warned there was a danger that people would no longer trust the police. It was vital to find the reason for brutality.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard described the police as having gone “beyond crisis point” and said President Jacob Zuma and Mthethwa urgently needed to take action.
“This latest incident, the latest in a string of embarrassing and unacceptable incidents which have fundamentally undermined the image of (SAPS), highlights the need for urgent action on police brutality,” Kohler Barnard said.