Galoome Shopane & Alzane Narrain
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says it is in the police’s nature to be ruff. This was in response to the violent behaviour of his men and women in blue over the past couple of months. Speaking at the Free State Crime Prevention Summit, Mthethwa admitted that over 900 people have died while in police custody. "Police are brutal everywhere in the world. What is important in any police force is to strengthen the oversight arm of society," he said.
Mthethwa, who has been criticised for bringing back military ranks into the police service, denies that the reintroduction of military ranks in the SAPS has increased police brutality. According to Mthethwa there’s no evidence to support the claims that ranks are responsible for police brutality in the country. At the opening of the summit, MEC for police, roads and transport, Butana Khompela, says police must not run away crying when they are being attacked. “I want to go on record that people shouldn’t attack the police, but when the police respond to the attack, it’s skop en donner,” explained Khompela.
Free State premier Ace Magashule blamed the media for portraying the police in bad light. ”It is only South African media which talks badly about the country,” Magashule critisised. The brutality of South African police officials has made news headlines in recent months. The brutal death of Ficksburg citizen Adries Tatane in April 2011 shocked the world. The policemen who were on trial for his death were all acquitted in March this year.
In March this year a 36-year-old police sergeant from Mahikeng in the North West allegedly dragged an off-duty Molopo magistrate’s court interpreter about 100 metres alongside his police vehicle in Setlopo Village. In the same month a police officer from Sasolburg attacked a 31-year-old man, his brother and his brother’s boyfriend who were waiting for their food in Langehoven Park, Bloemfontein.
Last week a video emerged depicting a woman from Smithfield being bitten by an off-duty policeman while two other police officials watched.