SEVERAL non-profit organisations and advocacy groups have released a fact sheet on police accountability in a bid to stop corruption, brutality, and torture in commemoration of Youth Day.
The Institute for Security Studies, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (Seri) and other partner organisations including the Legal Resources Centre, the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum, Viewfinder, Corruption Watch and the anti-repression working group of the C-19 People's Coalition aim to create a centralised knowledge bank with information on police accountability.
According to the organisations, the fact sheet has been developed to help members of the public understand police powers, their rights when encountering police, and their options for reporting abuses of power by the SA Police Service.
The fact sheet encourages members of the public to report illegal police activity such as assault or corruption.
When recording and reporting illegal police activity, the organisations require the date, time and place, officers’ name, rank and description, vehicle registration, witness details, description of the incident, photos or videos as well as information about injuries, which must be filled in as a formal complaint accompanied by the Department of Justice’s J88 form completed by a medical practitioner.
”It’s important for the public that police be held accountable, but also for the SAPS. Police won’t be able to investigate acts of brutality if people don’t feel comfortable enough to report them,” states the fact sheet.
Viewfinder and the C-19 People’s Coalition provide unofficial platforms to report unlawful behaviour by the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies and collect evidence to build a publicly held record of abuses, which can be used to advocate for policy changes.
Corruption Watch believes police brutality and torture are as serious a crime committed by some police officers as corruption, which involves paying money to the police in return for favourable treatment.
The organisation’s Veza platform allows anonymous reporting of police corruption for those afraid of repercussions.