New ways to report police brutality, inhumane treatment under lockdown
Police said on Tuesday they had beefed up their capacity to handle complaints about brutality, and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment during the lockdown in response to a Pretoria high court ruling in the Collins Khosa case.
The public can now report these allegations directly at the nearest police station or at the SAPS national service complaints centre, says national police spokesperson Brig Vishnu Naidoo.
“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.”
Whistleblowers would need to provide their full details including name, identity number, residential addresses and contact details.
“Complainants will also be required to give a detailed description of what occurred during the incident, including the province/area in which the complaint originated as well as the date and time of the incident and details of the SAPS officials involved.”
The high court ruled on May 15 that all people in SA were entitled to a number of rights which could not be suspended, even during the Covid-19 state of disaster. This was in response the death of Khosa, 41, who was allegedly beaten at his home in Alexandra, Gauteng, on April 10.
Khosa's family sought, and were granted, an order compelling defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and police minister Bheki Cele to develop and publish a code of conduct and operational procedures for soldiers and police deployed during the state of disaster.
Guidelines subsequently issued on the enforcement of the state of disaster regulations state that “enforcement officers” would “treat all people fairly and respect their constitutional rights and dignity at all times, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, culture, social standing, language or sexual orientation”.
What will happen if you are alleged to have committed an offence under lockdown? The guidelines say:
- A person may be arrested or requested to accompany an enforcement officer to a police station.
- If the offence is serious, the person may be detained but must be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible, but not later than 48 hours after arrest. Bail can be applied for in court.
- On a less serious offence, a community service centre commander or SAPS member in charge must consider the release of a person on written warning to appear in court, after paying an admission of guilt fine (meaning they will have a criminal record), on bail, if the charge is withdrawn or no charge is brought against them.
“Please note that an enforcement officer may forcibly confine the body of the arrested person if the person does not submit to custody,” according to the guidelines.