Dashiki Dialogues: Police brutality can’t just be ignored

2012-10-13 12:57

Let me start by saying I’ve grown to generally expect less from our police service.

This distresses me. Oh pardon me, it’s known as a police “force” these days.

I’ve needed help from the guys in blue twice and I was let down both times. The incidents involved petty thefts at my mother’s house.
First was a set of garden chairs, then it was a laptop stolen by someone known to our family.

I reported the crimes to the police, going through the writing up of statements.

In the case of the stolen computer, I knew who the culprit was, where he lived and even had a few of his neighbours willing to testify they had seen him with it.

Yet the police somehow failed to solve the crime, so I organised a stakeout at the guy’s house and managed to get my laptop back.

I am yet to hear from the police.

So when a friend called crying about being assaulted by the police, I wasn’t too surprised. It’s increasingly becoming the norm, echoing the murders of Andries Tatane and strikers at Marikana.

This is my friend’s story: “Five of us were on our way to swim when a police van with visibly irate cops stopped us. They called for backup, which arrived apparently ready for a fight.

“They searched us and found nothing. Then they asked us where we stay and insisted we open the gate. We eventually did, as we knew we had nothing to hide.

“This is when I raised my concern about them doing this without a warrant. For this I got punched and kicked.
“They beat me up badly, like you wouldn’t believe. They eventually stopped after 20 minutes or so and arrested us.

My shorts were full of blood. When I checked, my testicles looked burst and blood was coming out of my penis.

They took us to the Sunnyside Police Station.

“As they booked and charged us, I told the other officer I was bleeding. He looked and freaked out, then asked me what had happened.

I told him the arresting officer and his partners had assaulted me.

The arresting officer quickly intervened and took me outside and started going on about how this was all my fault.

I pleaded with him to let me go so I could rush to the nearest hospital. He agreed and called my friend Itu to drive me.

“We went to Steve Biko Hospital. The x-ray didn’t find serious damages, but I’m still being given treatment.”

My friend’s traumatic story now forms part of many such dialogues across the country.

We deserve better dashikis.

» Follow me on Twitter @Percy_Mabandu

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