UK film savages SA’s ‘dirty cops’ (17.7.2013)
(Media Articles)

July 17 2013


Durban - A British documentary entitled SA’s Dirty Cops that aired in the UK on Monday night has intensified debate in South Africa on just how brutal and corrupt the police force has become.While South Africans cannot access the full documentary, despite it being uploaded on to Channel 4’s website and YouTube, an accessible promotional clip was aired in the UK on Sunday.It opened with a scene showing Marikana miners during their wage negotiations and the subsequent protest which led to the death of 34 of them.The short video clip ends with the reporter comparing the SAPS to its apartheid predecessor.In response, South African commentators have said that while the use of excessive force and brutality by the police might remind people of apartheid-era policing methods, the victims of post-apartheid police brutality included not only criminals, but unemployed youth and protesters.“In the apartheid era, police brutality was directed at political activists, yet in the modern-day South Africa, it is often-times unarmed and defenceless civilians who are on the receiving end,” said Annah Moyo, advocacy officer at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation in Johannesburg.Commentators have also expressed a hope that the documentary presented a balanced point of view.Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, said there had been an increase in police brutality since 2002, but in the last year – for the first time in eight years – a decrease.British reporter Inigo Gilmore has been in South Africa poring over CCTV and cellphone footage showing police officers beating and torturing suspects.He interviewed a 14-year-old boy who claimed he was tortured by police, as well as Rose Tatane, the widow of Ficksburg protester, Andries Tatane. The seven policemen arrested and charged for Tatane’s murder at a 2011 protest were recently acquitted.Gilmore also spoke to national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega about how “police in South Africa appeared to act with impunity”, to which she replied that the whole issue was about perception, and that policing difficulties were not unique to South Africa.Gilmore’s article on the documentary also features on the Channel 4 website. He reported that a scene from a Marikana video clip showing an injured miner attempting to get to his feet before collapsing face-down in the dust, where he is left to die, was one of “many disturbing moments” in his documentary.He said part of the film further explored what had happened in Marikana and it also unearthed “a horrific picture of police violence in a grim throwback to the past and one which stands at odds with the vision of freedom in SA, including being freed from police brutality, as set out by the Struggle hero, Nelson Mandela”.During his interview with Rose Tatane, Gilmore asked if she felt there was political interference in the case and she replied: “Yes. Maybe if you’re trying to raise your voice and start questioning things, you’d be killed by our police in our country.”When speaking to Phiyega, Gilmore referred to several cases in which police had acted above the law – where they had killed or tortured people and were not punished.He asked Phiyega how she could explain that to South Africans, and she replied by asking if he would tell the judge what to do.Phiyega said it was important to say that “we, as SAPS, are very committed to the rights of the people of this country”.Moyo said police visibility and presence had become necessary during civil protests to maintain peace and order.She added that when a crowd became violent, the police had a duty to step in and arrest those who broke the law, but only by using minimal force, especially when the crowds were unarmed and vulnerable. Like Burger, Moyo hoped there was a balance to the documentary.Gilmore also interviewed Garth Newham, head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies.Newham told the Daily News he had not watched the documentary but felt it was not about South Africa-bashing, but about highlighting the growing problem of police brutality and corruption.He said there were just more than 8 800 police officers facing criminal This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. News

Independent Online

Friday, 19 July 2013
SA ‘back to apartheid days’, says Study of Violence Centre (3.3.2013)
(Media Articles)

3 March 2013Siyabonga MkhwanaziThe 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The New Age Online

Tuesday, 05 March 2013
Amateur video brings police torture to light (28.2.2013)
(Media Articles)

28 Feb 2013 18:59 - Faranaaz Parker News that Daveyton police beat and dragged a man behind a police van has sickened South Africans. But police torture of civilians is nothing new.Mido Macia, a taxi driver, got into an altercation with police after he was found to be obstructing traffic on a busy street. It's alleged that he was further beaten after he was taken to the local police station. He died in police custody as a result of his injuries.President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence on Thursday, saying that "the visuals of the incident are horrific, disturbing and unacceptable ... No human being should be treated in that manner."He said the police were required to operate within the confines of the law in executing their duties. He extended condolences to Macia's family and directed Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to investigate.But Macia's death while in police custody is not an isolated case. Hundreds of deaths occur in custody or as a result of police action each year. In 2008/2009, 912 people died under such circumstances.Last year there were 720 reports of deaths in police custody. Of those, about 50% were shot with a police firearm and 13% were assaulted. Only 1% were reported as having been tortured.In February the Mail & Guardian published an expose on the types of torture meted out to marginalized people. At the time, Poonitha Naidoo, co-ordinator for the Medical Rights Advocacy Network, said the most popular form of police torture in South Africa is called 'tubing' – a method of suffocation similar to the controversial waterboarding torture technique.Widespread brutality​Gareth Newham, head of the Crime and Justice Programme at the Institute for Security Studies, told the M&G that police brutality is widespread in the South African Police Service."Police abuses, where police physically assault people are very widespread and are a daily occurrence particularly against vulnerable and marginal groups," he said."Police are very quick to physically assault people especially when they believe those people have little chance of reporting it and they can get away with it."Newham said that police have been aware of the problem of police brutality for years but that, because of weak management and poor internal systems, it had never been dealt with."Until those weaknesses at the top of the organisation are resolved, we'll continue having widespread police abuse, misconduct and service delivery," he said.Newham pointed out that in the three years between 2005/2006 and 2008/2009, the number of people shot dead by police almost doubled, from 281 to 556.This does not include the number of people who died at the hands of police as a result of torture, assault, or being struck by a police vehicle.A look at the Independent Police Investigative Directorate's annual report for last year shows weak sanctions meted out to officers who commit criminal offenses.For example, a Kopanong officer convicted of attempted murder got "a R900 fine or 2 months imprisonment, of which R450 and one month is suspended for three years". A Mogwase officer convicted of murder got a fine of "R5 000 or two years imprisonment".Torture exists in SADominique Dix-Peek, a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, said recent studies conducted show that a lot of torture still exists in South Africa."There has been a lot of pressure on police to deal with crime. Because of the pressure and rhetoric from government and police ministers, police are under a lot of pressure. Typically, they deal with crime in a way that does not promote the human rights of the people that they see," she said."Police will pick on less popular victims - people who deal with petty crime or drugs, or people who are not South African citizens because South Africans are not necessarily going to have an outcry over those incidents."Dix-Peek said the police's treatment of Macia appeared to correlate with this.Textbook tortureThe Daveyton case appears to be a clear case of torture, as defined by the UN.According to UN conventions, if an injury is intentionally inflicted, not legally permissible, casuses severe pain and suffering whether mental or physical, is carried out with the intention of extracting information, bribing or punishing a person, and is commited by an officer of the state, it constitutes torture.But South Africa has no specific torture laws. Cases like these are usually tried as assault.Parliament has drafted a Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Bill but it is yet to pass through the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.

Mail and Guardian

Friday, 01 March 2013
'Shoot to kill' bill on agenda in parliament (24.8.2011)
(Media Articles)


Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's "shoot to kill" bill will come under fire in parliament today.

Objectors will tell a parliamentary committee that it could encourage police officers to "shoot first and ask questions later".

Seeking to give "clarity" about when police can shoot, the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill gives broader powers to officers in the use of deadly force.

The amendment, requested by the police minister and supported by President Jacob Zuma, allegedly removes the concept of "imminent and future danger" from the law - allowing police to shoot fleeing people based on their suspected past actions.

But a stream of submissions to the justice portfolio committee, which will hold a hearing today, say the wording might lead to abuse, increase the number of people shot dead by police, and even put police officers at risk.

Last year, 524 people died in police action, up from 282 in 2005/2006, including 16 bystanders, according to the Independent Complaints Directorate.

In submissions seen by The Times:

The Law Society says the amendment would lead to a violation of human rights; Lawyers for Human Rights says the bill "has removed the immediacy of the threat required" for police to use deadly force. "The arrester can now use force in circumstances that are not urgent"; The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation warns the bill will "lead to excessive use of deadly force" and complains that it empowers "arresters" rather than a more limited number of professional "peace officers"; The Institute for Security Studies says the bill "may encourage untrained citizens to place themselves and others at unnecessary risk by allowing them to decide to use deadly force to arrest a dangerous individual".

The institute points out there is no correlation between reductions in violent crime and the use of deadly force by the police; and

The African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum agrees with the minister that the old law was "ambiguous", but argues the new one might allow police to shoot a suspect "without the requirement that the suspect poses a threat of serious bodily harm to the arrester or anyone".

It complains that the new rule is dangerously "pinned" to suspects resisting or fleeing arrest.

In an earlier statement to parliament, the Department of Justice defended the bill as "providing greater legal certainty to arresters", and bringing the law in line with a ruling by the Constitutional Court in 1998.

The department said the SA Police Service wanted the amendment partly because a policeman chasing a known violent offender "runs the risk of the suspect turning around and firing at the police officer".

Times Live

Thursday, 25 August 2011
MPs investigate deadly force amendment (24.8.2011)
(Media Articles)

Cape Town - Draft legislation seeking to change the circumstances in which police officers may use deadly force came under the scrutiny of MPs on Wednesday.Members of Parliament's justice portfolio committee are examining the criminal procedure amendment bill, drawn up following a request by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to change Section 49 of the principal act.Section 49 regulates the use of force during the arrest of a suspect in a criminal matter. The committee has called for submissions on the measure.According to the minister, the amendment is necessary to bring the legislation in line with a Constitutional Court judgment in the Walters’ case.The judgement refers to the use of force during an arrest. The court had ruled that the shooting of a suspect to carry out an arrest was permitted in very limited circumstances.Speaking during his submission on Wednesday, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos told the committee the amendment was not necessary."What is required is not an amendment of the law. Something far more difficult is required: more sustained training of the police to interpret this [legislation]... And that is really the heart of the matter."Responding to questions on the proposed amendment to the act, he said it was not a limitation but actually an extension of the powers provided to the police."To the extent it extends the power of the police in both defending themselves and in using deadly force in arresting somebody, it goes beyond what the Walters’ judgment actually says is permissible," he said.‘Violation of human rights’The justice department has defended the bill, saying it will provide "greater legal certainty to arresters".In a statement earlier this year, it said the police wanted the amendment partly because a police officer chasing a known violent offender "runs the risk of the suspect turning around and firing at the police officer".According to the Independent Complaints Directorate, 524 people died in police action last year, up from 282 in 2005/2006.Among organisations set to make a submission to the committee are the Law Society, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and the Institute for Security Studies.They are largely opposed to the measure, with the Law Society reported as saying the measure, if adopted, would lead to a violation of human rights.At the time Cabinet approved the bill, in September last year, it said the measure "strives to provide greater legal certainty to arresters regarding circumstances under which force may be applied when attempting to effect an arrest, and the nature of the force that may lawfully be used in the process".The proposed legislation will authorise the police to shoot if the suspect in question is suspected, on reasonable grounds, of having previously threatened or caused serious bodily harm to someone.The committee has received 18 submissions.

News 24

Thursday, 25 August 2011
The trouble with living in a police state... (19.8.2011)
(Media Articles)

Gareth Stokes

South Africa is not a police state, yet. But in recent months we’ve witnessed some alarming developments. It started with the re-militarisation of police ranks and the immediate transition of our National Police Commissioner into a General… Why the change? The decision certainly undid much of the progress made in changing the country’s police “force” into a police “service”. Perhaps “General” holds more weight in a continent where those who control the guns usually outlast those who don’t. Whatever the case… Since General Bheki Cele’s metamorphosis he has issued the “shoot to kill” instruction on numerous occasions. He attends as many funerals of his fallen comrades as he possibly can and has made sure that the media spotlight falls on the number of police killed in action in South Africa each year.

It seems as if the General is using police deaths to motivate – or even justify – his “shoot now ask questions later” policing technique. But his claims of an all out war against the police are misleading. Carte Blanche – an investigative television show – reports that the scourge of police officers being killed has decreased dramatically since 1994: “In 1994, 265 police officers were killed, according to the South African Institute for Race Relations figures. In 2000, this number dropped to 178, and in 2010 it had fallen to 93, according to police statistics.” And at 2 August 2011 the Sowetan reports 57 police deaths year-to-date, suggesting the declining trend will continue.

The innocent victims of “shoot to kill” policing

The “shoot to kill” stance is wrong on a number of levels. First – it elevates the life of a police officer above the life of an ordinary citizen. The number of South Africans murdered year-to-date August is well above the 57 brave police officers who gave their lives… Why should the General not shed tears for victims of crimes? And second – it leads to excessive force. A dangerous nonchalance develops when you interact with the public from a position of ultimate power. Instead of tackling each situation on its merits police have been goaded into striding forward, guns loaded (or blazing) without a care for citizens’ rights. Cases of police brutality – although dismissed by Cele as isolated – are mounting.

Andries Tatane lost his life – allegedly at the hands of the police – during protests in Ficksburg on 13 April 2011. And on April 26 Janet Odendaal was shot dead, allegedly by a police sergeant, after she crashed into a police van outside the Kempton Park police station. If these were indeed isolated events, then the Independent Complaints Directorate (IDC) wouldn’t be saying that “killings by police in shooting incidents have escalated dramatically in recent years!” Their statistics confirm that such incidents have reached their highest levels since 1997. Under the heading “persons shot dead by police” the IDC reports 282 deaths in the 2005/6 year growing to 568 deaths in 2008/9 and 524 deaths the year after. A total of 65 innocent bystanders have been shot by police over the past five years.

In a Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) submission to The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development regarding the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, 39 of 2010 the CSVR concludes: “These figures, together with figures on complaints of serious non-fatal violence by police, which according to ICD statistics have increased dramatically in recent years, suggest strongly that there is a problem of the control of the use of deadly force by police in South Africa and that the SAPS is currently not exercising proper control over the use of lethal and other force by its members!” They are hard at work to prevent changes to the bill which would enable police officers to use more “lethal force”.

He who laughs last...

South Africa isn’t the only country struggling with law and order issues. Large scale rioting and looting in isolated areas in the UK drew many glib comments from local commentators. A closer look at the goings on during the riots and handling of events thereafter, shows marked differences between policing in the UK and back home. South Africa’s riot police – and we’re not talking here about ordinary officers who typically stand by while rioters trash our streets – tend to be fairly confrontational. They fire rubber bullets, teargas and other anti crowd rounds with gay abandon. Contrast this with comments from a UK policeman (posted on an online chat site): “Why the hell would I fire an AEP round (baton gun) in a riot situation? If it goes even slightly wrong and somebody is killed (and it will happen – that 41mm piece of hard plastic can kill you easily) then I will receive no support from the media, politicians, senior police officers or ill-informed members of the public!” Members of the UK police service have a greater appreciation of the consequences of their action – and show more restraint because of this.

Once the UK enforcement agencies got a handle on the situation they swung into action quickly and efficiently. Within hours of the unrest – the morning after – the Nottinghamshire Police said 84 people have been arrested, Merseyside Police (Liverpool) arrested 50 people for public disorder, and nine were arrested in Gloucester. Another 15 arrests were made by the Thames Valley Police along with 768 arrests and 105 charges laid by the Metropolitan Police! And they brought in 10, 000 extra police officers to avoid further violence.

In the immediate aftermath of the unrest UK prisons were full – with courts operating 24-hours to process the larger case load. We’ve spent some time in the UK and we’re pretty sure most of the perpetrators will get off with little more than a scolding… But aside from this leniency, that’s what swift justice should look like! And that’s the kind of response we’d like to see from local police… Trouble makers rounded up – without a shot being fired – and having their day in court almost immediately!

Editor’s thoughts: Any death among members of South Africa’s police services is one too many. But fighting fire with fire isn’t always the answer. By encouraging a cavalier “shoot to kill” attitude General Cele is creating conditions that are conducive to more rather than less deaths. Do you think the SAPS can do its job without a “shoot to kill” mandate? Add your comment below, or send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FA News

Monday, 22 August 2011
Change in law ‘will increase killings by police’ (4.8.2011)
(Media Articles)


CAPE TOWN — High levels of police shootings will be made worse by proposed changes in the law dealing with the use of lethal force, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) warned yesterday.

 Late last year, amendments to section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act were tabled in Parliament following numerous public statements that the police needed more powers to deal with increasingly violent criminals.

 The CSVR said in a statement that it had made a submission to Parliament’s justice committee that calls for the use of lethal force by police to be based on the "protection of life" principle.

 "The CSVR submission expresses a concern that the bill providing for amendment of section 49 provides for an expansion of police powers to use lethal force. Killings by police are currently at high levels in SA and it may be anticipated that, if the bill is passed in its current form, this will intensify the problem of excessive force.

 "The CSVR submission also argues that expanding police powers to use lethal force will not lead to improvements in police safety and will rather reinforce this problem," the statement said.

 "If policing itself is not based on valuing and protecting human life, this feeds into the overall problem of lack of value for human life … Basing the use of deadly force on clear ethical principles also has profound internal benefits for police agencies, providing moral reassurance to police officers involved in the use of deadly force, as well as feeding into feelings of pride in the policing profession and esprit de corps."


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Business Day

Monday, 08 August 2011
Only police chiefs can end it (24.4.2011)
(Media Articles)


David Bruce

David Bruce: Pictures in the press this week of six policemen standing in the dock in connection with the death of Andries Tatane in Meqheleng, outside Ficksburg, last week, are in many ways a reassuring sign.

Not so long ago we lived in a South Africa where demonstrators would be killed - while protesting peacefully - without any prospect of consequences for the police involved.

The fact that these six police officers have been brought before a court is therefore symbolic of the profound changes in South Africa in the last two decades.

Now that we are living in a democracy, the pictures seem to be saying it is no longer possible for the police to behave in a manner which reflects indifference to the rights of ordinary people.

In fact, these pictures may lead one to believe that, in general, police are held accountable for the misuse of force in South Africa. But this belief is an illusion.

The killing of Tatane is part of an emerging pattern of brutality by police, and comes at a time when the number of killings and serious assaults by members of the force are at extremely high levels.

In most cases where police misuse force, there is no accountability whatsoever.

The reasons for this relate partly to the fact that much policing is carried out in circumstances which are shielded from outside scrutiny.

They also reflect the power police have to obstruct the criminal justice process on those relatively rare occasions when a case is opened against them.

It is not simply that police officers, like everyone else, enjoy the right to remain silent.

Typically, in cases of brutality their colleagues close ranks with them.

An investigation into a case of police brutality often only has some chance of success in the rare cases where there are independent civilian witnesses who are not intimidated by the prospect of giving evidence against the police.

In cases of killings, the police are required to notify the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), but in practice have a high level of discretion as to when exactly to do this.

Police also have the know-how to manipulate evidence.

Where unarmed people are killed, it is not unheard of for police to plant weapons at the scene and then claim they were acting in self-defence.

Prosecutors, too, generally work quite closely with police members, and may therefore soft-peddle cases against SAPS employees.

The fact that we have an ICD in South Africa is clearly some kind of counterweight to the problem of police violence.

But in so far as reliance is placed on the ICD, with its limited human and financial resources, there is little chance of the directorate being able to address the problem in an effective way.

The central issue in ending police brutality is the attitude of police leadership.

Increasing levels of police violence coincided with the emergence of a top brass which had little faith in the idea that a style of policing which emphasised treating people in a fair and respectful way, could be effective in South Africa.

This is manifest in rhetoric from political and police leaders who justify and motivate for an increased reliance on the use of lethal force.

This type of leadership typically involves the occasional statement for public consumption about the need for police to obey the law - while mostly turning a blind eye to how the members of the SAPS actually use force.

With rare exceptions, those on the receiving end of police brutality are young, working-class black men.

Because most of the perpetrators of serious violent crime share the same demographic profile, it is assumed by many members of the public that those assaulted or killed by the police are "criminals", and there is little public sympathy for them.

While it is true that many of the victims of the police's use of force are violent criminals, it is also likely that many of the casualties are not guilty of any crime.

In fact, it is likely that they are merely victims of the type of gratuitous police violence evident in the SABC's Meqheleng video.

However, the concerns of this constituency of young, working-class black men have little political weight. As a result, police brutality usually has little prospect of being anything other than a marginal political issue.

Because of its visible and dramatic manner; the fact that it took place during a public protest; and the unambiguous evidence of excessive force by the police, the killing of Tatane is one of those rare incidents where excessive force by the police leads to a public outcry and consequent political fallout.

The reaction to Tatane's death may help to demonstrate to the leaders of the SAPS the pitfalls of this kind of policing and the failure of understanding about policing in a democracy.

As the politicians know all too well, in a context of widespread anxiety about crime, public sentiment often appears to support harsh policing methods.

In 2009, for instance, TNS Research Surveys found that 54% of interviewees apparently supported a "shoot to kill" policing strategy.

Politicians who take this kind of public sentiment at face value may misinterpret public pressure: politicians may believe that the public doesn't care what methods the police use, as long as they get results.

But this type of policing is not sustainable in a democracy.

Oppressive policing practices will inevitably lead to increasing friction between police and communities. Friction of this kind - and the damage caused to the image of the police by these sorts of incidents - are ultimately fatal to effective policing.

Outside of the context of a totalitarian state, the ultimate determinant of police effectiveness is the level of respect the ordinary person has for police.

Such respect can best be earned through a combination of effectiveness in fighting crime, and visible evidence that the police are committed to high standards of conduct.

Crucially, however, public respect is itself a means of optimising public co-operation, and thus a central factor in enabling police to do their work effectively.

Whatever public sentiment might be, it may be possible to persuade the police to improve the quality of their conduct if they recognised that it helped them be more effective.

This then implies the need for a renewed approach towards dealing with police brutality in South Africa.

First of all, this requires that the SAPS be re-orientated towards an ethos of professionalism in the use of force.

The use of force is crucial to policing, and therefore something which needs to be a focus of the day-to-day management of the SAPS.

A useful tool here could be a use-of-force policy which will guide police on procedures and standards - and which will serve to enshrine the principles of respect for human life; minimum force and proportionality, which underpin professional policing.

Such policies are used by several police agencies internationally as an instrument for commanders to ensure that rank and file members uphold the highest possible standards.

They give priority not only to the way in which the police deal with members of the public but also to the safety of members of the force.

Police services which take pride in the fact that they adhere to high standards when it comes to the use of force, can be more effective in securing public co-operation and, as a result, in getting their jobs done.

To meet these standards they need leaders who believepolice effectiveness can be achieved in this way.

Tatane's death might not be in vain if it serves to drive home this message to the leaders of the SAPS.

Bruce is a senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation

Times Live


Monday, 08 August 2011
'Disappointed’ at no magic wand to wave away crime (15.11.10)
(Media Articles)

MEMBERS of Parliament’s police committee, the new Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu and police secretariat officials pronounced themselves disappointed this week when the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s report on why crime in South Africa is so violent was released.

They clearly all wanted a magic wand from the academics – David Bruce and Adele Kirsten – who compiled the study, and there wasn’t one. Indeed, after a particularly robust engagement, Bruce told the committee that worldwide there had been many studies done on violent crime and no one had yet come up with an answer.

Committee chairman Sindi Chikunga and Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald wanted to know why crime in South Africa was so often accompanied by hideous cruelty. They said the study had failed to find an explanation as to why victims of crime are so often tortured.Indeed, this is a good question. The study reported that the history of structural violence inherent in the way in which colonialism and apartheid worked lay at the heart of the matter.

I suppose the idea is that if you are the victim of institutional violence simply because of your race then it legitimises violence on a personal level.Also, people would have observed brutal state action from police and other departments where there were no consequences. In short, impunity.Also connected to violent crime in the study were things like poverty, education, the destruction of family structures through the migrant labour system and, curiously, the abuse of alcohol by young mothers – often accompanied by domestic violence. Still further reinforcement.

While accepting the bona fides of the research done, it would be nice if the further research which the CSVR said was ongoing could provide answers to some of the questions. For example, there are places in the world where there is far more poverty than in South Africa but where there is less violent crime.It would also be interesting to find out what role is played by the fact that South Africa negotiated its revolution rather than fighting to the end. Is there a sort of feeling that violence is justified because there were no real winners and losers in the revolution?

There were some startling findings which should sound some alarm bells, one being that more than a third of the perpetrators of violent crime are 19 years and younger. That is truly scary and it points to problems with education and socialisation.

Having said all that, the criticism of the report does seem to be unfair. It is an astonishing piece of work and really does serve the vital function of bringing together what we know about violent crime in the country and putting it in an accessible form in one place.

There have also been complaints that R3.5- million of public money was spent and not much achieved. Also unfair. Anything that contributes to a better understanding of where we are and why we behave as we do is worth every cent.

In The Herald

Monday, 15 November 2010
'Gender machinery' in disarray (25.11.09)
(Media Articles)

Johannesburg - South Africa's "gender machinery" is in "disarray" with it not even being clear who is co-ordinating the 16 Days of Activism campaign, a group of NGOs said on Wednesday.

"At a time when it is most needed, participants noted, the national gender machinery is in disarray," read a statement from Gender Links and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).

"There is a lack of clarity on which agency is driving the 16 Days of Activism campaign, which used to be housed in the department of local government, following the establishment of the ministry of women, children and disability in April this year.

"The ministry has yet to hold a consultation with civil society organisations. There has also been a deafening silence on the status of the 365 National Action Plan to End Gender Violence adopted in March 2007 and co-ordinated by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA)."

They said there is also still no specific "domestic violence" category which would enable monitoring of the crime. They called on the government to resuscitate the 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence.

'We can prevent violence'

Their statement followed a three-day symposium convened by the CSVR under the banner "We can Prevent Violence". They also called for the establishment of a special fund to end gender violence, in line with regional and international commitments.

In addition they called on Fifa to use the World Cup 2010 to send out strong messages in support of the campaign to end gender violence as well as HIV/Aids.

They said the 12% increase in reported rape cases to 71 500 from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009 may in part be due to the expanded definition of rape under the new act. The figures are unacceptably high and likely to be understated due to under reporting.

Government was also still "well behind" in reaching the target of 81 one-stop centres for addressing gender violence by 2010 provided for in the National Sexual Assault Policy.

The 16-Days campaign takes place every year from November 25, the International Day of No Violence Against Women.

It runs until December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.


In News24.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009
'Constitution threatened by populism' (14.11.08)
(Media Articles)

Christelle Terreblanche

Is he an astute politician who speaks to ordinary people's concerns, or a dangerous populist who may be undermining the Constitution? Jacob Zuma's controversial remarks on the pre-election campaign trail that has taken him around the country have left in their wake a number of questions - and while his comments may have hit the right spot with his audiences, constitutional experts and gender rights activists are not amused. The ANC president told a rally in the Western Cape last weekend that truant learners and pregnant teenagers "should be caught and sent to faraway boarding schools by force until they get degrees".

He accused teenaged mothers of abusing the government's child grant and talked about "a war on street kids". He also repeated previous remarks, including one that crime suspects enjoy too many privileges. But since he sensationally pronounced last year that he was willing to reconsider the death penalty, there has been little indication of how he wants to get this past the country's progressive human rights Constitution. The man is certainly playing to his audiences across South Africa's deep social divides. His allegorical, vernacular rally style contrasts sharply with his measured and reasonable utterances last week at the Cape Town Press Club, where his audience was a world apart from the mostly poverty-stricken people who turn up at rallies. Constitutional and human rights experts believe Zuma's campaign approach to be "dangerous" and "populist", one that's testing the limits of the country's Constitution. Some are incensed by Zuma's suggestion that teenaged mothers should be separated from their babies. "There is a complete lack of acknowledgement of the responsibility of the father in any of this. Teenage girls are a nice, easy cheap target and it plays to a conservative populism to bash teenage girls," is the verdict of Lisa Vetten, senior researcher at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women. "Frankly, for the ANC Youth League to have not said anything about this either, just goes to show how much they care about the difficulties that face adolescent girls. Why girls fall pregnant is a lot more complicated than we think." Two legal commentators say they believe aspects of Zuma's statements may be in conflict with the country's Constitution. University of the Western Cape constitutional expert, Professor Pierre de Vos, says if Zuma indeed meant that women should be forcibly sent away for education, he was making them into "criminals" when they were not accused before the law - "even more grave if it is directed at pregnant women". "It is obviously preposterous, because you once again make women the scapegoats and the men (who made them pregnant) get away scot-free. It is the old patriarchal approach," said De Vos. While acknowledging that the scope of teenage pregnancies was a shame to society, Unisa's Professor Shadrack Gutto said the ANC president's solution was not necessarily "child friendly", did not address the root causes of the problem and "from a constitutional legal perspective (was) very problematic". "As a safeguard you should build in the question of development of children," suggests Gutto. "In legal terms, the interests of the child (babies) come first, and critical to that is the interests of the child, for instance, in breastfeeding. "We know breastfeeding is universally acknowledged to be better for the child than other forms of feeding (although) other forms are not necessarily bad for the child." He said in this context, the statement "could violate the constitutional principle of protecting the rights of children" even before considering the interests of the mother. From the child's point of view "the statements are unfortunate and in many ways opposite to the principles of law". "We need proper reflection really on this issue - which is a populist statement not properly thought through," he suggested. But ANC national spokesperson Carl Niehaus believes Zuma has been misunderstood. The comments - often mistranslated - are derived from listening to communities where the problem of teenage pregnancies "means that mothers and grannies then have to look after the children of their children" and teenage mothers are stigmatised. Niehaus said Zuma was merely raising real concerns in communities that beg for a response from the government. He said that when teenagers leave a community to give birth, they are seldom welcomed back "because there is a kind of social sanction". "It is first of all not an attitude to let men walk off scot-free. It is important that young men are also kept responsible. The suggestion is not at all to withdraw the children by force, but where possible for them to be taken into a new community where they will be able to grow with the children," he explained. On the ANC president's statements that the rights of criminals should be curtailed, experts argue that this will not solve the underlying problem of weak judicial and police systems that result in offenders walking free. But what it does do is infringe on people's constitutional rights. The constitutional legal basic rights of all persons have limitations, stresses Gutto. "But then to be saying criminals should not have rights, really the ANC president is speaking in a language (that) I think is contrary to our Constitution and the principles of the right to freedom of movement and the rights of expression and freedom of association, which will be severely limited." Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation's senior researcher David Bruce says that while there's evidence that a control-orientated approach to criminal justice is likely to convict more criminals, it also comes at the cost of convicting higher numbers of people who are innocent. Bruce warns that a human rights approach, however, depends on a criminal justice system which is staffed by people who are highly skilled and knowledgeable. South Africa has been struggling to get this right, but all efforts must be exhausted before we start intruding on human rights, he stressed. "Incarceration is a process which brutalises people. We are living in a country that is already severely brutalised. So we need to be very wary of it," he said. De Vos says it's a "typical politician's quick-fix" answer to complex problems in our deeply unequal society. But Niehaus stressed that Zuma had been trying to respond to communities' serious battles against crime and to encourage discussion about whether this could be dealt with "in a tougher way without transgressing the Constitution". Gutto also acknowledges the flip-side - that South Africa offers little for victims of crime. "If you put all those together, you can see where the sentiment is coming from - but the ANC president should not be speaking so loosely." Niehaus denied Zuma was being populist. "It is more about being sensitive to the issues being raised in townships and rural communities where things are really difficult. "These are really issues that I think he is quite right to raise," he stressed.

This article was originally published on page 17 of Cape Argus on November 14, 2008
Friday, 14 November 2008
'Most immigrants reintegrated' (18.08.08)
(Media Articles)

Pretoria - Although some hostility continued towards immigrants in South Africa, many foreigners had been reintegrated with their communities, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said on Monday.

Speaking in Pretoria at a conference on xenophobia, Mapisa-Nqakula said: "Communities affected by the violence have engaged amongst themselves and although hostility still continues in a few communities, the vast majority of those displaced have been reintegrated," she said.

The Minister was speaking while a Constitutional Court decision was being awaited on Monday on an appeal against a court ruling on the closure of Gauteng refugee shelters.

Last Friday, refugee camps around the province were expected to be dismantled.

Speaking of her visit to Atteridgeville in March, the Minister said she noticed that people were talking "past each other" when coming to people who were different from themselves.

Will take time for wounds to heal

"It will take time for wounds to heal. There is no room for arrogance," she said, adding that the loss of over 60 lives in the xenophobic attacks was due to "pure criminality".

This opinion was shared by Minister in the Presidency, Essop Pahad.

Referring to the xenophobic attacks which started on May 12, Pahad called the attacks "dastardly".

He said the lives of everyone in the country, including documented as well as undocumented persons, had to be protected.

Pahad said most immigrants contributed to the country's economy.

SA Human Rights Commission chairperson Jody Kollapen said although the Constitution made provision for diversity, this was still a very "romantic and elusive" notion.

"We are grappling with who we are," he told delegates.

He said the nation has been deeply damaged and that the stereotyping of people needed to be discussed frankly.

Marivic Garcia of the Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation said reintegration was a complex process that should be done properly. Xenophobia also adversely affected immigrant children.

The Africa Institute of SA's Patrick Matlou said South Africans needed to travel more in Africa to become acquainted with other cultures.

The Methodist Church's Bishop Paul Verryn said that xenophobia was a "world phenomenon" and not restricted to South Africa.

"Another matter which is of deep concern is justice. One can't be seen to be doing for A what we're not doing for B. You can't be seen to be doing for foreign nationals what you're not prepared to do for South Africans."

Too many rights

He added that reintegrating foreigners back into their communities was fraught with anxiety.

The House of Traditional Leaders blamed the attacks on colonialism and the apartheid regime. Kgosi FP Kutama said colonialism had been responsible for dividing peoples and called for borders to be scrapped.

The SA Council of Churches' Eddie Makoe blamed the attacks on the "deterioration" of the nation while railing against the "rationalising of violence".

A representative of the Somali Association of SA said it seemed as if South Africans had been given more rights than they could handle, and that this weakened the country's stability.


Monday, 18 August 2008
'No need for court action on shelters' (04.08.08)
(Media Articles)

There was no need for court action to force the Gauteng provincial government to keep open temporary safe sites for refugees and asylum seekers until they were reintegrated into communities, spokesperson Thabo Masebe said on Monday. He was reacting to the announcement that the Wits Law Clinic and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) were bringing an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court. They want the government ordered to communicate and implement a reintegration strategy which protects the rights of all, and to restore and not dismantle the Rifle Range temporary safe site until the reintegration strategy is in place.

"I don't know really what these people are looking for," said Masebe. There was no need for them to take court action, he said. "All they had to do was come to us." More than 62 people died, hundreds were injured and tens of thousands displaced in a wave of xenophobic attacks which started in Alexandra, Johannesburg on May 12 and spread to the rest of the country. The displaced have been housed in temporary shelters set up throughout the province since then. "All the shelters are still open, including the Rifle Range shelter," said Masebe. However, he explained that when people left any of the shelters any excess tents were folded up. Of about 1 700 refugees and asylum seekers at the Rifle Range camp at the height of the crisis, only 250 remained, he said. The rest had left after refusing to accept temporary identity cards from the Department of Home Affairs or finding alternative accommodation in their communities. Elsewhere in the province, there were still about 3 000 occupants of the safe shelters. "It's going down because people are leaving every day," he said, adding that 10 families left the Rand Airport camp on Friday alone. The government's key role had been to create conditions in all communities - starting with those where there was violence - for people to return to their homes, Masebe said. "They should be safe to do so. They should not fear that somebody will attack them again," he said. This had involved talking to the communities, which the provincial government had started in May. "It's not something that starts and stops. It starts and continues," he said. "I don't know what plan they are looking for." Civil society organisations have come out in support of the court action. While the need for legal action was regrettable, it was needed in the absence of the government's formal communication on a reintegration strategy, said the Reintegration Working Group. The group includes representatives of, among others: the Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg; the Somali Community Board; the Refugee Ministries Centre; the Coalition Against Xenophobia; His People Church; the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation; Mthwakazi Arts and Culture; and the Salvation Army. Masebe said the various groups could assist the government as political organisations and community organisations had done from the start. "That process goes on." In addition, the provincial government was talking to displaced people still at the shelters and who could not reintegrate on their own to find out what kind of help they needed. This included assistance with the building of shacks destroyed in the violence - in Ekurhuleni, communities were already helping in rebuilding efforts - or finding alternative accommodation. "There is no way as government, there is no way we are going to keep the shelters on a permanent basis.". The government did not want to create as permanent, separate settlements for foreign nationals, he said, adding that the government would oppose the court action. "It is not properly informed." - Sapa

In the Independent Online

Monday, 04 August 2008
'Crime will rise if Scorpions get canned'
(Media Articles)
Boyd Webb

Police corruption is likely to skyrocket if the Scorpions are closed down, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) stated in a submission to parliament. "The SAPS is already riddled with corruption and is very bad at addressing the issue," CSVR senior researcher David Bruce argued. He said that corruption within the service could only be properly addressed if investigating units, with the "investigative sophistication" of the Scorpions, were allowed to remain independent of the police. The CSVR submission is but one of many which the chairperson of the National Assembly's Safety and Security Committee, Maggie Sotyu, expects to be waiting for her when she return to parliament next Tuesday.

The public has until Monday to make submissions concerning their views on whether the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) should be closed and merged into the SAPS as called for by ANC resolutions passed at its December conference. The CSVR said that while it recognised that there were problems with the way the Scorpions were managed - as highlighted in the Khampepe Commission's report - these should be addressed without dissolving the unit. Closing the unit would do nothing to reduce the risk of the state abusing its power in the future by using similar units for its own political gain, the CSVR argued. "Creating a single agency with a monopoly of investigative powers is more likely to accentuate the problem," the CSVR said. Groups within the ANC along with the ANC's alliance partners have accused President Thabo Mbeki of using the Scorpions to carry out his political agenda against ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Meanwhile the Centre For Constitutional Rights (CFCR) on Wednesday described cabinet's decision to close the Scorpions as "irrational and arbitrary". It added it had a duty to draw attention to "conduct inconsistent with the constitution".

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on July 24, 2008
Thursday, 24 July 2008
'Anti-Scorpions Bill not in public interest'
(Media Articles)
MPs should vote against the current measure before Parliament intended to dissolve the Scorpions, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation said on Wednesday. "... the bills are not in the public interest and should be opposed by members of parliament," the organisation said in its submission to Parliament on the measure. Bringing the Scorpions under the command of the SAPS would expose the investigative unit to political manipulation, corruption and under-performance. "We believe that the envisaged dissolution of the Scorpions will... compound alleged existing weaknesses of the criminal justice system," the centre said. -Sapa In The Star, 23 July 2008
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
'SA cops still use torture'
(Media Articles)

Brian Indrelunas The government should meet its "international obligation" to criminalise torture, says SA Human Rights commissioner Leon Wessels. He called explicitly outlawing torture "an international obligation" after speaking to representatives of non-profit groups and government departments at a seminar. "We can't just subscribe to the international rhetoric (without) ensuring that torture becomes a statutory crime," he commented. The Constitution lists the right not to be tortured and police policies refer to torture specifically, but "all other policy is devoid of the language", said Lukas Muntingh of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative. CSPRI and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) hosted on Tuesday's seminar, which explored civil society's role in preventing torture.

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Published on

Wednesday, 02 April 2008
Torture In South Africa: The Act and the Facts

Fact sheet on torture – September 2014. “Torture In South Africa: The Act and the Facts." The Centre For The Study Of Violence And Reconciliation

Thursday, 14 July 2016
CSVR Community Model: Intervening with Victims of Torture and CIDT in Kagiso, Gauteng

Masitha, Jabu, Dominique Dix-Peek, Modiegi Merafe, Kindiza Ngubeni and Tsamme Mfundisi. 2015. CSVR Community Model: Intervening with Victims of Torture and CIDT in Kagiso, Gauteng. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Thursday, 01 January 2015
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