There have been increasing reports on police brutality in South Africa since lockdown has been instated. The Minister of Police Bheki Cele said that 49 cases of police brutality have been reported since the start of lockdown.
Speaking during a hybrid sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday, June 31, Cele gave some details of the complaints against police. He also maintained that government does not support police brutality, but that officers will use “deadly force” when needed.
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“Of the investigations, 36 were so far finalised. Of that 36 cases, 20 were found to be valid charges and one resulted in disciplinary action against an officer. No criminal charges have been instituted in any of the matters that were finalised,” Cele said.
He also added that 13 cases are still pending investigation. A total of 15 cases were reported in the Gauteng province, while 10 and nine were reported in KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape respectively.
According to Cele, a case of police brutality is always investigated before any action is taken against an officer.
“Police are constantly reminded of the human rights framework they work under. Nobody supports police brutality, but police will use proportional force to defend themselves and protect innocent lives. They are also allowed to use deadly force and that is what the law says, not me,” said the police minister.
In recent months, South Africans have demanded answers from Cele after it emerged that a number of citizens had died at the hands of law enforcement officers or members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) during lockdown. Some of these deaths include:
– Collins Khosa who was believed to be assaulted by both SANDF and Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers during lockdown. He was throttled, hit with the butt of a machine gun and slammed into a steel gate.
– Sibusiso Amos is believed to have been shot by police while sitting on the verandah of his home during lockdown.
– Petrus Miggles, who was believed to have been brutally assaulted by police when he was caught illegally purchasing beer during lockdown. His knuckles were smashed using a hammer before being forced into a police vehicle. Shortly thereafter, he was dropped off where he was picked up and died as he reached home. It is not confirmed what happened in the police vehicle.
– Adane Emmanuel was accused of illegally selling cigarettes during lockdown, and was assaulted by police. He was arrested thereafter, and was kept in police custody for several hours before he was released on bail. He was driven to a clinic by police but died before he could receive treatment.
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