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Deaths from police brutality on the rise - report

South Africa
Johannesburg - A report by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) shows a shocking increase in the number of people who die in custody as a result of police action.

The Ipid report, which will be discussed by the portfolio committee on police on Wednesday, showed that offences committed by the police have shot up in the past year.

The report found there were 159 deaths as a result of police action last year.

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A report by Ipid shows a shocking increase in the number of people who die in custody as a result of police action. Picture: Skyler Reid/ANA pictures

However, this number went up to 207 this year, which Ipid said was a 30% increase.

The police watchdog also found that members of the SAPS were involved in 51 rape incidents, 61 torture incidents, 66 corruption cases and 159 other criminal cases.

The report said that “deaths in police custody contributed to 43% while deaths as a result of police brutality contributed 57%” of the total deaths.

It noted that Gauteng had the highest number of people who died due to police brutality.

In the same province, there were 59 deaths – an increase from 45 deaths recorded last year.

KwaZulu-Natal followed with a total of 51 people killed at the hands of the police this year, compared to 48 who died last year.

In the Free State, 42 people died. This was a huge increase from the 20 people who died a year ago.

In the Western Cape, the number of people who died as a result of police action was much lower, with a record of 20 people, compared to the 17 of last year.

Meanwhile, in Mpumalanga, 12 deaths were recorded compared to the 10 deaths of a year ago.

The North West recorded five deaths this year, a minor decrease from the six people killed in 2016.

In the Northern Cape, the numbers were lower as well, and four people died this year. But this was an increase from two people who died during the same period last year.

As for rape cases, there were 51 cases reported against police officers.

The offences were allegedly committed by both on-duty and off-duty officers.

Gauteng had the highest number of officers involved in rape incidents, with 15 cases registered.

The Western Cape followed with 10 cases, and KZN and the Eastern Cape both had seven cases, while in the Free State and Mpumalanga three cases were noted.

Police in the Northern Cape and North West were implicated in two rape cases listed in each province.

Approached for comment, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said: “The idea is to not have bodies coming of people in custody. The idea is to have those people in custody rehabilitated. That should be the case in the first (instance)."

“To answer your questions, there is a lot of consideration that needs to be taken. We will never promote any form of killing. But we are in a condition where the reality is such that we have a number of prison officials attacked as well. This is because of under-staffing, among other things.”

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