SAPS has a legacy of deadly force

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A policeman gestures in front of some of the dead miners after they were shot outside Lonmin mine in Rustenburg. File photo: Siphiwe Sibeko

Cape Town - Amid calls for murder charges to be brought against police for the 2012 Marikana shootings, the injury and death of civilians at the hands of the police continue to make headlines.

Here is a timeline of cases, reports and statements on the issue.

* April 13, 2011: Andries Tatane dies after being beaten and shot during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg, Free State. Seven police officers accused of his murder are acquitted in 2013.

* August, 2011: The police ministry calls for an urgent review of the policy on policing of riots to ensure the Bill of Rights is respected.

* August 16, 2012: Thirty-four people die when police open fire at striking workers at Lonmin's platinum mine in Marikana. More than 70 others are wounded in the most lethal use of violence by security forces against civilians in the post-apartheid era.

* August, 2012: Opposition MPs and analysts say the riot policing policy has not been reviewed and that the SA Police Service (SAPS) standing order 262 from 2004 -- which demands that police use minimum force, prohibits the use of sharp ammunition for crowd management operations and restricts the use of rubber bullets to extreme cases -- has been violated.

* September 30, 2012: Nqobile Nzuza, 17, is shot dead during an anti-eviction protest in Marikana. Witnesses claim she was shot while running away from the police, who admit to the shooting but say they were acting in self-defence.

* January 14, 2013: Letsekang Thokoene, 23, dies after being shot with rubber bullets, allegedly by the police, during the De Doorns farm workers' protests. Thokoene worked at a spaza shop and was believed not to have taken part in the protest for higher wages.

* February 15, 2013: Residents accuse the police of killing a 16-year-old youth in Qhoboshane village, outside Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape, during violent service delivery protests.

* February 26, 2013: Mozambican minibus taxi driver Mido Macia is found dead in police cells after being dragged behind a police van along a street in Daveyton, on the East Rand. Nine police officers are accused of his murder.

* August 22, 2013: The Institute for Security Studies says cases of alleged police brutality increased by 313 percent in the 10 years from 2001.

* October 2, 2013: The watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate reports that it received 245 complaints of deaths in police custody in the 2012/2013 financial year.

* October 18, 2013: Rap musician Khuli Chana is shot and wounded by police in Midrand when they open fire on his car after mistaking him for a crime suspect.

* January 13, 2014: Osiah Rahube and photographer Michael Tshele are killed in clashes with the police in Brits during a protest for running water.

A third man, Lerato Seema, dies the following day from injuries police said he suffered when he jumped from a moving Nyala. Police say a fourth person died on January 19 of injuries sustained in the clashes. Residents claim the 36-year-old man was shot in the head.

* January 15, 2014: Advocate Geoff Budlender lodges a complaint at the Farlam Commission of Inquiry into the Marikana deaths, accusing the police of failing to submit numerous documents and a recording requested by the evidence leaders in relation to the investigation.

* January 18, 2014: The commission's chairman, retired judge Ian Farlam, demands full co-operation from the police, and says that if the evidence is not produced, he will call the national police commissioner to account.

* January 21, 2014: Advocate Dali Mpofu, representing the wounded miners at Marikana, tells the commission the police commander at the scene, Brigadier Adriaan Calitz must be charged with murder because he issued instructions to shoot to kill. Calitz said there was no such instruction, and that officers acted in self defence.

* January 21, 2014: In its 2014 World Report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) notes serious concerns about the ongoing conduct and capacity of the police, in terms of their use of force in general, and their ability to deal with riots in a rights-respecting manner. The police accuse HRW of generalising and being subjective in its assessment.

* January 21, 2014: The police say new and existing officials are now being trained in crowd management. They say that of 12 399 crowd-related incidents in the past financial year, 10 517 were peaceful, 1 882 were violent, and 3 680 arrests were made. They admit there might be rotten apples, but say there is not a culture of impunity in the police, and no carte blanche for officers to kill innocent people who protest.

* January 23, 2014: A 28-year-old man, Tshepo Babuseng, was shot dead by a police officer after protesting residents in Durban Deep, Roodepoort, barricaded roads with stones and burning tyres. Police say he was hit by a warning shot, while the family claimed he was shot directly in the stomach.

 

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