HARRIET MCLEA

Civil society organisations have told a workshop on police brutality hosted by the Human Rights Commission, in Johannesburg, that the police must rethink the way in which they resort to force.

Rose Tatane, widow of Ficksburg community leader Andries Tatane, who was shot dead by the police during a service delivery protest, was to have attended the workshop. But, the commission's Free State manager, Mothusi Lepheana, said: "She couldn't be here because she is in mourning."

Institute for Security Studies policing expert Andrew Faull said the police top brass, who often spoke of a "war on crime", were encouraging police brutality by creating animosity between communities and the law enforcement officers charged with serving them.

Faull said people should thank the police when they did a good job instead of only complaining about brutality. This would encourage good behaviour.

The Institute for Security Studies, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum jointly called on the police to change the way in which they used force in upholding the law.

"[The current] approach to the use of force is ill-advised and will be counterproductive for both the police and the public. The police need to be supported in attaining professional standards in the use of force."

The organisations said that policing was "most effective" when it "wins public respect".

"This results in greater co-operation with the police and respect for the criminal justice system."

Institute for Security Studies policing expert Johan Burger said that though the police had "excellent recruitment standards" they were not properly applied.

For 10 years, "the police commissioner forfeited quality for quantity," he said.

Times Live