SA ‘back to apartheid days’, says Study of Violence Centre (3.3.2013)

3 March 2013

Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

The recent events of police brutality have taken the country back to apartheid days.

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) said the brutal nature of the killing of Mozambican national, taxi driver, Mido Macia was a reflection of a new society with a brutal past.

It said that the incident led to new lows against the police by members of the public.

The centre said that no matter what offence Macia had committed, the violent conduct of the police was not acceptable.

The incident sparked a huge public outcry and condemnation of the police.

Macia was dragged by a police vehicle in an incident that was caught on a cellphone camera in Daveyton on Gauteng’s East Rand at the end of last month.

He was later found dead in a police cell amid concerns that he was also assaulted during his detention.

Eight police officers have been suspended and they will appear in court today. The Daveyton police station commander was also removed from his post.

The CSVR said the incident took the country back to the days of apartheid where police exercised brutal force and violence against members of the public and political activists.

The centre said the incident also bore the elements of torture as Macia was assaulted in the police holding cells before he succumbed to his injuries.

“The Centre’s research and work with survivors and victims of torture in South Africa has demonstrated that the effects of these violations often leads to victims later perpetrating violence themselves and undermines public confidence in the police and other state institutions,” the CSVR said.

The Centre said since the Marikana shooting in August there had been focus on acts of violent conduct by members of the police.

It said that authorities needed to act against incidents of brutality by police officers and that Parliament had to fast-track the adoption of the anti-torture legislation.

Parliament has for several months been crafting the Combating of Torture of Persons Bill.

CVSR said if this bill had been in place Macia’s attackers would not only have faced a murder charge, but also charges of torture.

The police officers who attacked Macia would escape torture charges as there was no legislation, said the Centre, urging Parliament to expedite the anti-torture legislation.

“Torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment did not disappear with the end of apartheid,” the Centre said.

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