The police brutality in South Africa continues to soar out of control. Over the past few years, the forceful and brutal behavior of police officers has often been in the news. The latest incident of the disruptive behavior happened this week in Cape Town.
A member of the public filmed the entire event from her office in Cape Town. Her video shows two uniformed police officers kicking and punching a naked man. Apparently, private security officials were also involved in this incident, and held the detainee’s arms down while police beat him up. People walking past this scene stopped to watch the uncommon happening in their town.
The member of the public who filmed the incident shouted from her office window at the police, who then sent officers up to her office to arrest her for interfering in police business by screaming at them. Her colleagues asked the police officers why they had beat the man, and he replied by saying they were trying to get the man into the van. The woman was arrested but later on that day, all charges were withdrawn against her.
The Democratic Alliance (DA), the governing party of the Western Cape, condemned the action of violent police behavior. A spokesperson of the DA party said the attack on the man by the police was aggressive in the way they punched, kicked, and choked him repeatedly. She went on to say that people in South Africa are living in fear of both criminals and police officers.
A Western Cape police spokesperson told the media that they were assessing the footage from the attack. No further comments were available.
The police brutality continues to soar in South Africa, and this presents challenges for the government. In recent months, the South African Police Services (SAPS) have faced a barrage of local and international media attention over published incidents in which people have died or been assaulted at the hands of the police.
Whenever an incident of police brutality is reported, a spark of public concern is raised about the conduct of the SAPS. Although many of the incidents of police brutality are isolated incidents, there is the question of the assertive behavior symbolizing a systemic problem.
Police officers sign a code of conduct and are investigated when their behavior does not abide by the code. A seminar held to discuss solutions and challenges of police brutality revealed that police officers should have the right to report and arrest colleagues if they are involved in a forceful behavior.
It was reported that over 900 officers were arrested within the last two years and charged with a series of crimes in the Gauteng province alone. Honest officers who stood by the code of conduct and regulations that govern their behavior arrested most of the corrupt police officers.
The police are trained to serve their communities with pride and SAPS members should be able to stop criminal elements within the scope of their duties.
An investigation into the deaths of detainees held in police custody will also continue as well as a probe into recent behavior of the police. Dr. Johan Burger said the government’s National Development Plan (NDP) could help to deal with police brutality. He said the implementation and application of the recommendations of the NDP, which are worthwhile, would cause the brutality to stop.
The NDP recommends the police code of conduct be linked to officers’ chances of promotion, as well as to the code of professionalism. During 1994, there was a proposal to demilitarize the police force and move away from the history of police brutality. The NDP plan calls for further demilitarization of the police and moves into a professional civilian service.
An answer to the brutality of the police force in South Africa will have to receive priority attention to implement the NDP plan and prevent the continued soaring brutal behavior of the police.
By Laura Oneale