Since the implementation of the nationwide lockdown, members of the South African Police Service and South African National Defence Force have been accused of using excessive force.
Such is the extent of the reports against the SAPS and SANDF, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has recently reported the number of assault cases made against police officers has risen significantly over recent weeks.
One case of police brutality which has captured the attention of South Africans, is the death of Collin Khosa.
Living in Alexandra, Khosa was allegedly killed on April after eyewitnesses claimed they saw female SANDF members enter his yard with sjamboks. They apparently accused him of breaking the lockdown regulations.
This is after they allegedly saw an unattended camping chair outside Khosa’s home and a “half-full cup of alcohol”.
Khosa allegedly told the soldiers, that even if he had been drinking, it was no offence as it was in his property. This resulted in the officers raiding his house, confiscating two beers from his fridge and ordered him outside.
Once outside, the soldiers called for back-up from other SANDF members and Johannesburg Metro Police officers.
Khosa was then manhandled and assaulted. According to reports, beer was poured over his head and on his body. A member of the SANDF allegedly held Khosa’s hand behind his back, while another choked him; before slamming him against a cement wall.
Khosa was also hit with the butt of the machine gun; kicked, slapped, punched in his face and on his stomach and ribs; before being slammed against a steel gate.
After the assault, Khosa was taken inside his home and started vomiting, losing his speech and progressively lost his ability to walk. He was taken to bed, but emergency services later declared him dead.
Khosa’s family took the matter to court, where their lawyer explained how videos of the incident recorded by witnesses were deleted by SANDF members.
On May 15, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria declared all people in SA are entitled to a number of rights which cannot be suspended, even during the Covid-19 state of disaster.
These include the right to life, the right not to be tortured in any way and the right not to be treated or punished in an inhumane and cruel way.
In response to the judgement handed down by the high court, the SAPS has begun the SAPS’ National Service Complaints Centre. This will enable the public to report allegations of police brutality or cruel, inhumane and/or degrading treatment and/or punishment, committed by members of the SAPS.
The public may, for the duration of the State of Disaster, report complaints regarding the SAPS at the nearest police station, the National Service Complaints Centre on the toll-free number 0800 333 177 or on the following email addresses firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
In a statement issued by the SAPS, complaints can vary from torture and/or cruel, inhumane and/or degrading treatment and/or punishment, committed by law enforcement members including poor service delivery regarding police response, investigations, police negligence and police misconduct.
When members of the public report a complaint; the respective complaint will be required to contain detailed information. This information must include the individual’s full names and surname, identity number, residential/business address, telephone and cell phone numbers and an email address.
Complainants will also be required to give a detailed description of what occurred during the incident.
This includes the province/area in which the complaint originates, as well as the date, time and details of the SAPS officials involved.
Law enforcement agencies are expected to ensure that the disaster management regulations are adhered to by all inhabitants of the country.
Regulations and Directions are available at https://www.saps.gov.za/newsroom/regulations/regulations.php or https://www.gov.za/coronavirus/guidelines