Cape Town police suspended over attack

By Drum Digital
07 March 2014

The police officers who allegedly kicked and punched a naked man in Cape Town will be suspended pending an investigation, Western Cape police said on Friday.

"The management of the SA Police Service in the Western Cape were horrified with the video footage that was in circulation in the social media since this morning," Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said.

"As a result, we undertook to institute internal disciplinary steps against the members. Notices of suspension will be issued by end of business today [Friday]."

The unit had also appointed a senior detective to investigate criminal charges against the officers.

A person in a building videotaped the man being assaulted in a central Cape Town street on Thursday.

The video shows two police officers handcuffing the man, watched by two men wearing neon-yellow city safety unit vests.

One of the officers is seen removing the man's pants, leaving him exposed in the road. The footage shows the man being punched and kicked in the groin, while his arms are held at his sides.

The shocked voices of others in the building can be heard on the video.

One, a woman, opens a window and shouts: "Police brutality! That's not how you treat a person. Why are you kicking him? Why are you kicking him?"

One of the officers is seen wagging his hand at her, before walking towards the building.

Kinana said police management had watched the footage, and confirmed the police officers were from Cape Town Central police station.

"Their conduct is not in line with the SAPS code of conduct... We as the SAPS in the province condemn the behaviour witnessed in the video in [the] strongest terms."

Provincial safety MEC Dan Plato on Friday welcomed the suspensions, and said they were an indication that "this type of behaviour" would not be tolerated in a constitutional democracy.

He said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) would still need to conduct a full investigation.

He condemned the violation of the man's dignity and his human rights.

"All officers at this station should receive additional training to ensure that this type of incident does not occur again," he said.

"There are humane ways in which an officer can deal with anyone resisting arrest; what happened yesterday [Thursday] morning, is never the correct way."

It was not clear on what charges the man was arrested.

The organisation People Against Suffering Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP) said what was done to the man was unacceptable, regardless of the circumstances of his arrest.

"We believe these actions are an example of ongoing police brutality in South Africa, which is frequently directed at the poor, undocumented communities and immigrants," said PASSOP community outreach officer Anthony Muteti.

"Whether the victim in this case is South African or not is besides the point. A full investigation must be launched, and the culprits in this assault arrested and fired from the police service."

Provincial African National Congress leader Marius Fransman said he was "outraged" that the man was stripped naked without posing a visible threat to any person.

"The whole unseemly incident smacks of race undertones, and the attacks continued, despite bystanders calling for sanity," he said.

"The police should defend our people's dignity and show professionalism in their approach in dealing with people."

-SAPA

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