Citizen testimonies are calling in to question the credibility of the South African Police Services (SAPS). Listeners have made allegations prompting an exploration into police criminality.
Thandi Losi's story
On Monday 9 March 2015 702's John Robbie received a call from Thandi Losi, reporting that she had been arrested the previous day for attempting to capture eyewitness footage of police brutality with her cellphone, and refusing to surrender the recording.
When I refused they told me its fine, then they were going to lock me up; they actually did and charged me with assaulting a police officer.
Losi alleged that she was detained in Sunnyside Police Station, Pretoria with others for several hours by the policemen. After appearing in the Pretoria Magistrate Court that morning, she was told the case was withdrawn.
Losi says she then spoke to a senior investigating officer at the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Mandla Mahlangu, who informed her that the police officers who allegedly assaulted her have pending IPID cases against them.
IPID's latest annual report
When comparing IPID's 2014 annual report figures to those of 2013, it appears that cases reported against the police are on the decline. In 2013 there was a total of 4181 cases reported in the category of assault and torture. In 2014 that number dropped to 3994.
However, of the overall 5745 cases reported in 2014, 1470 were criminal recommendations to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), whilst of 2013's total 6728 reported cases, only 1088 of them were criminal referrals to the NPA.
Most people’s interaction with government is through the police. If the interaction is a pleasant one, then society’s perception of government will also be positive.— Minister of Police Mr. Nkosinathi Nhleko in IPID's 2014 Annual Report.
Read more information from IPID's annual reports.
5 tips for those who witness police criminality
Professor Peter Jordi of the Wits Law Clinic says that he does not encourage citizens to confront or interfere with police conduct, even if it is unlawful. Jordi advises that if South Africans do try intervene, they should do so with caution because it is a dangerous pursuit.
Don't be a martyr, the risks are too high. When you interfere and confront police, you are playing with fire.
Jordi offers the following advice:
- If you record any suspicious police behaviour, try do so from a distance without making them aware of it.
- Be 100% of the circumstances you are witnessing, and ensure that you have not misread the situation or jumped to conclusions.
- Assess whether the scene requires public or self defense.
- Avoid violence.
- South African citizens have the Constitutional right to execute a citizen's arrest in relation to Schedule 1 offences in the Criminal Procedure Act - but do not undertake this lightly.
5 prominent police brutality allegations that shouldn't be forgotten
- Andries Tatane who was beaten to death by six policemen in Ficksburg.
- The video of Clement Emenkesha's brutal assault in Cape Town that went viral.
- William Sithole's mother who has pleaded with the police to explain why her son was killed in their custody, after initially claiming that he committed suicide.
- Lana Stander in Randburg on record showing and explaining how police violently assaulted her after falsely accusing her of being drunk following an epileptic fit.
- Rikky Minyuku has also written about her encounter with police whilst pregnant and using public transport.
Losi's on-air account was followed by experiences from other listeners claiming also to have been victims of unlawful police procedure.
Listen to the listeners experiences on the John Robbie Show below: