Police brutality undermines the public’s confidence in them - experts
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DURBAN - TWO experts have described the incident where three men were allegedly sjambokked by eight Tshwane metro officers as unlawfully and severely undermining the public’s confidence in police.
This comes after the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) said it had resolved other means to identify the officers because they had failed to come forward.
Siyabonga Masimula, Odwa Mafanya and Bheki Shiba were allegedly assaulted with sjamboks by eight officers on October 2, when they had gone to the Tshwane Impound Vehicle Centre to collect their car.
The men found the gate closed when the officers came from the streets and allegedly assaulted them.
The victims alleged they were assaulted for no reason.
Professor Nirmala Gopal, of the Department of Criminology and Forensic Studies at the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said although officers could use reasonable force in circumstances where their lives were at risk. the amount of force they used could not be justified.
“The Ipid has a history of protecting rotten apples so I can once again safely say that the Ipid did not have the will to investigate thoroughly. This would break the silent code of solidarity among them. Why would the Ipid want to cause their colleagues to lose their jobs? One of the principal challenges for the Ipid is that they are conflicted when dealing with challenges posed by metro officers.”
She said the officers were terrified because they were aware that their actions were a gross violation of the victims’ rights to equality and dignity.
“Why would they emerge voluntarily? The Ipid just needs to check the duty roster to find the perpetrators. The justice system should have a truly independent body comprising of civil society made up of retired judges, lawyers and civilians to adjudicate on police transgressions involving the public.”
The head of justice and violence prevention at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Gareth Newham, said this incident was an example of how police officials used unlawful violence and severely undermined public confidence in their organisation.
He said there were various ways in which the Ipid would have been able to identify the officers because they were on duty.
“These officers were in uniform and on duty. The possibility is they would have been stationed nearby. The Ipid could have started looking at the list of personnel who were on duty at the time. They could have also got details on the victims, as to possibly signal their ranks or names the officers might have called each other during the assault so they can identify those officers,” said Newham.
He said Tshwane Metro management should launch its own investigation.
“They should be aggressively pursuing these officers with the view of bringing them before the disciplinary process.”
The Ipid spokesperson Grace Langa said that they had expected the officers to come forward but they had not.
Langa said the Ipid would ensure that the perpetrators were brought to book and that victims got justice.
She said they visited the suspects’ workplace but could not identify them.
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