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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC calls on Fannie Masemola to deal with rogue, abusive cops

17 OCTOBER 2022

Pretoria - South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) chairperson Chris Nissen has called on national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola to take drastic action against police officers who abuse members of the public.

Nissen was responding to the startling Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) report that revealed that thousands of police officers had been investigated for numerous human rights violations.

In its annual report, Ipid disclosed that it investigated more than 5 000 crimes that were committed by police officers.

These included murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and rape.

The purpose of the report was to outline the investigative activities of the Ipid for the 2021/22 financial year.

It detailed the number and type of cases registered, investigated and completed, including criminal referrals and recommendations made, as well as the outcome of those criminal referrals and recommendations.

The cases varied from deaths in police custody, deaths as a result of police actions, any complaint relating to the discharge of an official firearm by any police officer, rape by a police officer, rape of any person while in police custody, torture or assault by a police officer in the execution of his or her duties and corruption matters within the police.

“A total of 5 295 cases were registered to the Ipid during the reporting period.

“Of these, 3 407 were assault cases, 744 were cases of complaints of discharge of an official firearm, 410 were cases of deaths as a result of police action, followed by 223 cases of deaths in police custody,” said Ipid spokesperson Lizzy Suping.

Suping said a total of 633 people died in police cells, police vehicles, an ambulance, court cell, crime scene, hospital or clinic due to the behaviour of police officers.

“Most deaths occurred at the crime scene (384), followed by deaths in hospital/clinic (118) and deaths in police cells (110),” she said.

On and off-duty police officers were also investigated for rape.

“Most incidents were reported in KwaZulu-Natal with 20 incidents, followed by Gauteng and the Western Cape with 18 incidents each, and the Eastern Cape with 15 incidents,” said Suping.

The purpose of the report was to outline the investigative activities of the Ipid for the 2021/22 financial year.

It detailed the number and type of cases registered, investigated and completed, including criminal referrals and recommendations made, as well as the outcome of those criminal referrals and recommendations.

The cases varied from deaths in police custody, deaths as a result of police actions, any complaint relating to the discharge of an official firearm by any police officer, rape by a police officer, rape of any person while in police custody, torture or assault by a police officer in the execution of his or her duties and corruption matters within the police.

“A total of 5 295 cases were registered to the Ipid during the reporting period.

“Of these, 3 407 were assault cases, 744 were cases of complaints of discharge of an official firearm, 410 were cases of deaths as a result of police action, followed by 223 cases of deaths in police custody,” said Ipid spokesperson Lizzy Suping.

Suping said a total of 633 people died in police cells, police vehicles, an ambulance, court cell, crime scene, hospital or clinic due to the behaviour of police officers.

Rape incidents involving police officers in the 2020/21 reporting period rose from 80 to 90 in 2021/22.

Human rights commissioner Nissen said the incidents could not be wished away.

“Statistically we have tens of thousands of police officers who are serving the country well.

“But just like any other organisation, there will always be a percentage of those who don’t follow the code of ethics.

“This does not mean because we have a high number of police officers who behave well we should absolve those who don’t. Police officers are the first line of human rights defenders.

“It is unacceptable that more than 5 000 have violated those human rights they are supposed to protect,” Nissen told the Pretoria News.

According to Nissen, the first remedy was for Masemola to take a tough stance against rogue police officers.

“This is a line department function. Those in charge have to take a firm stand against officers denting the image of the hard-working men and women in blue.

“I know that the commissioner will handle this in line with all the disciplinary processes.

“He should not be afraid to deal with them.

“Above all, he must address the nation and say, ‘We are sorry and we have taken action’.

“We need to admit our faults in order to deal with wrongdoing. We must build public good.

“It should be clear that 50% of police work is policing and the other 50% is human behaviour.

“We must continue to teach police officers to be human.

“In this way, they will receive the respect they deserve and society will fight anyone who abuses their kindness,” Nissen said.

Masemola’s communication team was unable to respond to questions sent to them on Friday evening.

Among the questions sent was whether there were any mental wellness programmes aimed at assisting police officers to deal with their emotions and how to react when facing pressure in public.

Source: Pretoria News

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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