There's a perception that breaking the law is ok - SAHRC

2016-04-28 12:07
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Johannesburg – There is a perception that even those in the highest office in the land think breaking the law is okay, SAHRC part-time commissioner Danny Titus said on Thursday.

"The South African society is one where breaking the law is a way of life," he said during a panel discussion in Johannesburg on policing and human rights.

"Whether you are in a taxi or whether you are in government, or whether you are… even in the highest office in this land, there is a perception that breaking the law is fine, impunity is the order of the day and then we ask our police to police in a lawless society like that."

Titus said citizens needed to take responsibility for the society in which police officers were expected to work.

Deputy police commissioner Fannie Masemola said society contributed to the type of police it had.

"They don't come from another planet, they come from society," he said.

Masemola acknowledged that there had been some setbacks within the SA Police Service (SAPS), but said these were being dealt with and that much had been achieved. 

The South African Human Rights Commission and the SAPS signed a memorandum of understanding in 2014 on policing and human rights.

Titus said there had been discussions with police on how officers should respond to service delivery protests when mayors or provincial heads refused to accept memorandums from protesters.

"When police tell us: 'do you know what it means to police a demonstration for three, five hours in the heat? People shout at you, scream at you, spit on you, swear at you, and they are nurses and teachers. Isn't there a responsibility on this human rights commission also to educate society?'

"This is where we feel we must hold hands," said Titus.

Lawlessness had to be stopped.

"We must turn it around, whether it's the Guptas, or whether it's the multinationals, or whether it is whatever private sector institution and the people in government who are so prone to be corrupted, that we must accept that this is the context within which our police have to function," he said.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  johannesburg  |  judiciary

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