HRC calls for end to police violence

2008-03-23 00:00

Alarmed by the recent spate of police brutality as seen in the recent police raid on student night spots in Stellenbosch, the SA Human Rights Commission has called for an end to such behaviour.

Stellenbosch might be the latest, but student riots at the University of Technology, Mangosuthu University and the University of Free State have unleashed further criticism of police conduct.

Their defence is that they are protecting the vulnerable and acting against malicious damage to infrastructure.

Danzel van Zyl, co-ordinator of Human Rights and Crime, said the commission wants to state unequivocally that recent police behaviour flies in the face of the South African Police Service’s constitutional obligation to maintain public order, to protect and secure South Africa’s inhabitants and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law.

"While the Commission respects the role of the Independent Complaints Directorate, we feel compelled to comment on matters where the human dignity and physical integrity of South African citizens and inhabitants are being compromised at the hands of state agencies.

"We say that the scourge of crime and violence that currently afflicts the country can never be used as an excuse by members of the police to opt out of their human rights obligations," said Van Zyl.

Van Zyl said the SAPS is on record admitting that negative attention and perceptions harm the credibility and image of the service, which has taken years to develop from an autocratic apartheid force to a democratic institution based on human dignity, equality and freedom.

"The commission calls for perpetrators of police brutality to be brought to book, and implores the SAPS to work on good community relations."

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