Cases mounting against increasingly brutal police (22.03.11)

Cases mounting against increasingly brutal police (22.03.11)

Civil cases against police have pushed the contingent liability budget to R7.5bn in the last financial year.
A Sunday Tribune report says the sharp spike in brutal action by the police has prompted the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to investigate three times more severe assault cases last year than in 2001. It cites the recent example of police storming a restaurant in Melville, Johannesburg, in the early hours and assaulting patrons. The incident was captured on closed-circuit TV cameras inside the Catz Pyjamas. Police researchers and lawyers who specialise in litigating against the police have warned that anecdotal reports of giving electric shocks, suffocation and other apartheid-style torture methods have become more prevalent. ICD statistics compiled by a Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation researcher indicate that: since 2001/02 the number of assault investigations conducted by the ICD has trebled from 255 to 920 in 2009/10. Attempted murder cases it investigated have gone up more than seven times from 43 in 2001/02 to 325 in the last financial year. The number of fatal shooting investigations was at an all-time high over the past two financial years – at 556 in 2008/09 and 524 in 2009/10. The figure is compared with 458 in 1997/08, 293 in 2002/03 and an all-time low of 281 in 2005/06. And policing researchers say the spike in fatal shootings can be traced back to KZN, where there has been a 173% increase in five years – from 75 in 2005/06 to 205 in 2009/10.
Full Sunday Tribune report (subscription needed)
Police have also come under fire for neglecting the rights of rape victims. The Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC) claims police are failing to promote the rights of rape victims by neglecting the correct procedures, says a report in The Witness. 'The police service routinely fails to follow correct procedures such as informing victims that they have the right to post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV transmission, and also to demand that the suspect be tested for HIV,' said TLAC spokesperson Lisa Vetten. The procedures were set out in the Sexual Offences Act passed in 2007. A national working group on sexual offences has been raising awareness of the Act through the Shukumisa campaign. Research by the campaign's monitoring team shows that many police stations do not understand the Act or officers have not been trained in implementing it, Vetten said. The research shows that only half of 60 monitored stations have ready access to regulation forms on HIV testing of rape accused and information sheets for rape survivors about post-exposure prophylaxis and HIV testing.
Full report in The Witness (subscription needed)
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