Dear Nathi Mthethwa

2014-01-15 01:40

Mr Nathi Mthethwa, I am law abiding citizen of South Africa. You're my Minister of Police but I fear the South African police because of their brutality and apartheid tactics used by them, your department has a problem. Gone are those days where we used 'bad apples' excuse to hide the real truth. The problem is far bigger than a few individuals. It's about the leadership in the police itself addressing systemic factors. What measures are you taking as the Minister to make sure that the police uphold their oath and stop police brutality? Police brutality has been defined as a Constitutional civil rights violation.

Reports of police brutality in South Africa have soared yet only one in 100 cases against officers results in a conviction. Are we becoming a police state? Are we now living in a country where the men and women in police uniform have no regard for the law and human life? How can we trust a police force that is meant to serve and protect us is killing us and beating us up every chance they get? Who is protecting us from the police? Because I can personally say that I now fear the police the same way I fear the criminals. Why is the constitution not protecting us from the police? Why are the police not up holding their oath? The South African Police are supposed to maintain law and order, prevent crime, investigate offences and preserve the country's internal security. Police officers have to be loyal to the Police Service and to the country and put the safety of the public above their own personal safety. To serve and protect the citizens of South Africa.

A series of high-profile cases, including the shooting of striking mineworkers at Marikana and the killing of a Mozambican taxi driver dragged behind a van‚ have left the reputation of the service in tatters. Cases of police brutality leapt from 416 during 2001-2002 to 1,722 cases by 2011-2012, according to the Institute for Security Studies’. A total of 11,880 criminal cases were opened with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) during the five years to from 2011-12. But this resulted in just 2,576 prosecutions and 129 convictions ‚ meaning that only 1% of criminal cases opened against police officials ends in a conviction simply because the Police force take a vow of silence when one of their own is being investigated, protect a criminal and letting him off to the streets again to terrorize more South Africans.

There were 720 deaths in police custody or as a result of police action in 2011/12, of these, 22% of cases were referred to the national prosecuting authority because of some evidence of criminality. How many of these police officers were convicted? Andries Tatane killers walked free after the being cleared of all charges. We are still waiting for someone to be arrested for the Marikana massacre; we have all heard the Police Commissioner Phiyega defending the police actions. Recently, two protesters were shot dead and two were wounded during a service delivery protest in Brits. Why send out police that have no training in crowd and riot control to a protest?

Police misconduct is met with impunity. The most likely outcome of a case against the police is no outcome. This undermines the morale and public trust in the many honest police officers who do their work professionally and within the rules, All respect is given to the Police who uphold their oath.

It was reported that 1,448 police employees have convictions for serious crimes ranging from murder to rape and assault. Why are convicted criminals allowed to continue to serve in the organisation responsible for law and order?  This where the problem starts, unionized police force.

On a daily basis police will stop and frisk for no reason whatsoever yet we as South Africans are protected by the Constitution, the requirement of reasonable grounds for the search is abandoned. Yes it may be seen as a good act by the police to stop and frisk but the law also acknowledges the fact that there has to be reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed or may be committed. Section 14 of the Bill of Rights says: the right to privacy, including protection against search and seizure, and the privacy of correspondence. Section 21 Bill of Rights: freedom of movement, including the right to leave South Africa, the right of citizens to a passport and the right to enter South Africa.

But in reality, the Criminal Procedure Act and the South African Police Service Act respectively are in conflict with the Constitution which gives the police power to do whatever they want.

ICD spokesman, Moses Dlamini, said there were increases in police brutality. These were influenced by factors such as increased encounters between police and suspects and service delivery protests. Management has to take responsibility with a task team needed to focus on creating a clear policy around the use of force because at the point, our Police can beat up a baboon until it admits that it is in fact a rabbit.

Follow me on Twitter: @ThembaRadebeer

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