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Sun Dec 04 22:23:37 SAST 2016

The government's silence on brutality claims is deafening

The Times Editorial | 2012-08-29 00:09:28.0

The Times Editorial: It beggers belief that the government has not moved to speedily and decisively deal with widespread allegations of assault levelled against the police by the miners arrested after the Marikana massacre.

As this newspaper reported yesterday, of the 259 strikers who appeared in the Ga-Rankuwa Magistrate's Court on Monday, 198 had opened cases of assault against police.

The suspects claimed that, since their arrest almost two weeks ago, they had been beaten with heavy objects - including batons - kicked and pepper-sprayed by their captors in the cells of North West police stations such as Phokeng, Mogwase, Jericho and Bethanie.

A number of injured miners had also been taken to local hospitals, according to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the policing watchdog which is investigating the allegations.

Yet, by late yesterday the arrested strikers - who themselves face serious charges, including murder - were still being held in the same cells, where they were being guarded by the same policemen.

With our police's questionable human rights track record , people in custody frequently - and often falsely - claim abuse, or even torture, at the hands of their captors.

But given the fact that the massacre dominated news headlines locally and abroad, one would have thought that the authorities would have gone to great lengths to ensure that the accused were treated by the book as investigations against them continued.

Surely it would not have been too difficult to ensure that, at the very least, their police guards were replaced, if necessary, by officers from other provinces.

Alternatively, the suspects, some of whom are ill and claim they are being deprived of medicine, should be visited regularly by officials from the police watchdog body, human rights lawyers or perhaps even a judge.

The police dropped the ball at Marikana. The government needs to pick it up now.

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