A screengrab of Worcester police assaulting a group of men.
A screengrab of Worcester police assaulting a group of men.

Alleged sjambok assault by Worcester cops is under investigation

By Mthuthuzeli Ntseku Time of article published Jan 21, 2021

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Cape Town - Police are investigating the conduct of two Worcester police officials, following the circulation of a video on social media platforms showing the police officials assaulting two men on Monday.

Police spokesperson Novela Potelwa said the officials, who are attached to a unit in Worcester, have been identified, while the two individuals are yet-to-be identified.

Potelwa said further investigation into the matter is expected to also shed light on what had happened prior to the recording commencing.

“The Western Cape SAPS wishes to place on record that the beating up and manhandling of individuals and/or suspects is against departmental directives and prescripts that govern the handling of persons by police officials. In addition, the use of a sjambok by police officials is not only forbidden, but unlawful,” said Potelwa.

Ukubavimba Foundation director Venice Burgins, who received the complaints, said the two men were subjected to the assault because they were not wearing masks.

“Police brutality is totally absurd and despicable. Corporal punishment was abolished yet SAPS are portrayed, yet again, to be an impediment to the constitution as well as their mandate to protect and serve. In fact, it's tantamount to treason as these police officials violated the highest law of land. These victims need answers and so does everyone, as it's now public knowledge with the viral circulation of the video.

“We cannot accept these barbaric acts from the police.The unfortunate reality is that SAPS already have a R6.8 billion in civil law suits against it, yet these officials act with impunity. We urge Police Minister Bheki Cele to intervene, as beating people with a sjambok is unlawful and the worst crime against humanity under his watch,” she said.

Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said the police investigating the incident should bring relief that this matter won't just go unnoticed.

“As a union, we are against any form of brutality, be it against the police or the public. We would like to urge both to cooperate in ensuring that we focus on building good working relations. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has been making prosecutions and we also continue to discourage such illegal acts. The key to eradicating such situations is through improving working relations between police and communities,” he said.

IPID spokesperson Ndileka Cola said that an investigation of the incident has been instituted.

“IPID has so far managed to identify the Anti-Gang Unit members captured in the video footage but the two individuals one being searched, slapped and another sjamboked are yet-to-be identified and interviewed by IPID investigators as part of the investigation process,” Cola said.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said: “While I welcome the investigation into this alleged misconduct, I strongly condemn the actions of those officers. It is my hope that the investigation will provide more insight into the events surrounding the incident.”

Going forward, Fritz said he will also request a report on the investigation to take further remedial action if necessary.

“It is imperative that citizens in the province look to SAPS to ensure their safety and that this is not undermined by misconduct of any kind,” he said.

Cape Argus

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