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Johannesburg - Police officers should be working with communities to fight crime within the framework of the law, and not abuse the law, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday.
“We must all of us, as society, mobilise and sustain a campaign against any allegations of police brutality and lawlessness across all spheres of society,” he said in a statement.
“Critical in fighting crime is the campaign to weed out elements within the criminal justice system who are engaged in various acts of crime, even if it involves our own officers.”
Mthethwa said the recent alleged police brutality incident in the North West was an embarrassment to the police service.
On Friday, a 36-year-old police officer accused of dragging an off-duty court interpreter alongside his car was charged with attempted murder, Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesman Moses Dlamini said.
The sergeant, based at the Lomanyaneng police station in Mahikeng, North West, appeared in the Mmabatho Magistrate's Court on Friday.
The case was postponed to Wednesday for a formal bail application, said Dlamini.
Mthethwa welcomed the arrest of the officer by Ipid, and said officers should protect citizens in line with the Constitution.
“We condemn any act of police brutality, as 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 and where we have many dedicated police officers who continue to serve with excellence.”
Mthethwa urged the public to “afford the criminal justice system space to deal with the case”, and said he had confidence that the courts would reveal the truth of what happened.
The officer was arrested on Thursday for allegedly assaulting a man in Setlopo Village and dragging him alongside a police vehicle.
The man, a court interpreter at the Molopo Magistrate's Court, 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,” Dlamini said.
The man suffered injuries to his feet and was taken to hospital by his neighbour.
The SA Police Union (Sapu) condemned the incidents of police brutality.
“The damage and embarrassment these incidents are causing to the police brand is so much that it will be extremely difficult to correct this situation,” Sapu general secretary Oscar Skommere said in a statement.
Poor command and control in the SA Police Service was at an unacceptably high level. However, people should not generalise as not all police officers believed they were a law unto themselves.
“We have a small minority that is causing harm to the good image of the SAPS. Those few rotten elements will be dealt with accordingly,” said Skommere.
Earlier this week, nine police officers were denied bail after being charged with murdering taxi driver Mido Macia, who was dragged behind a police vehicle in Daveyton, east of Johannesburg.
Macia was filmed being tied to the back of a police van and dragged along a street in Daveyton on February 26. He was found dead in the local police station's holding cells hours later. - Sapa