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How To Deal With Reports Of Police Brutality

Journalists equipment damaged in the scuffle.
Cape Town Metro Police officer barring a journalist from covering the eviction of refugees the Central Methodist Mission on Greenmarket Square. Pic: Unknown

In response to the Judge H Fabricius’ judgement handed down in the matter of Mr Collins Khosa on Friday, 15 May 2020, in the North Gauteng (Pretoria) High Court of South Africa, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has through its National Service Complaints Centre created a platform enabling the public and the media to report allegations of police brutality or cruelty, inhumane and/or degrading treatment and/or punishment, committed by members of the SAPS.

The public may, for the duration of the State of Disaster, report complaints regarding the SAPS at the nearest police station, the National Service Complaints Centre on the toll-free number 0800 333 177 or on the following email addresses

complaintsnodalpoint@saps.gov.za

service@saps.gov.za

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.

When you report a complaint, the respective complaint will be required to contain detailed information such as full names and surname, identity number, residential/business address, telephone and cell phone numbers and an email address.

Complainants will also be required to give a detailed description of what occurred during the incident including the province/area in which the complaint originates as well as the date and time of the incident and details of the SAPS officials involved.

The national state of disaster has created an unprecedented situation which requires the co-operation of everyone to prevent, limit, contain, combat and manage the spreading of COVID-19. Law enforcement agencies are expected to ensure that the disaster management regulations are adhered to by all inhabitants of the country.

Regulations and Directions are available at http://www.saps.gov.za/newsroom/ regulations/regulations.php

And – https://www.gov.za/coronavirus/guidelines

Members of the public suspected to be in contravention of the disaster management regulations may expect the following to happen:

– Be arrested or requested to accompany a law enforcement officer to a police station;

– If the offence is of a serious nature, the person may be detained, subject hereto that he or she must be brought before a court as soon as reasonably possible, but no later than 48 hours after the arrest.;

– The person may apply for bail at his or her appearance in court;

– If the offence is less serious, the community service centre commander or the senior member of the SAPS in charge must consider the release of a person (in consultation with the investigating officer) ─

(a) on a written warning to appear in court (section 72 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977) [Form SAPS 496 will be issued with a court date];

(b) on written notice (section 56 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977) (Form J 534 will be issued with an option to pay a fine or appear in court on the date indicated on the form. This option enables a person to pay an admission of guilt fine and to be released thereafter. This means that the person will not have to appear in court, but by paying the admission of guilt fine, it is regarded as if the person has been convicted in court on the charge and the person will have a criminal record);

(c) on bail (sections 59 and 59A of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977) [J398 or J399] (This means that an amount for the bail will be determined by the relevant police official or the prosecutor. The person will have to appear on a date indicated on the receipt);

(d) after a charge has been withdrawn through an arrangement with the Public Prosecutor; or

(e) if he or she was detained as a suspect but is released from detention before the expiry of the 48-hour period because no charge is brought against him or her (section 50(1)(c) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977) [SAPS 328].

The public is urged to take note that the guidelines regarding enforcement of the State of Disaster Regulations. They allow that a law enforcement officer may forcibly confine the body of the arrested person if the person does not submit to custody (in accordance with section 39 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977). Furthermore, if the suspect resists the arrest or attempts to flee, section 49(2) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, authorises an enforcement officer to use force that is reasonably necessary and proportional to overcome such resistance or attempt.

However, under no circumstances may a person be tortured, assaulted, or mistreated in any manner by a law enforcement officer.

It is expected of law enforcement officers to support the aim of the State of Disaster by providing a service, render assistance, give advice, guide and lead the community, in order to ensure that lives are saved. This is being achieved by ensuring that there is enforcement to inter-provincial/districts travel through roadblocks and Vehicle Check Points, checking and verification of permits issued under the regulations, ensuring closure of borders and monitoring movement of cargo, issuing of fines and arresting of offenders for non-compliance, compliance check during routine patrols and high visibility patrols and visits to identified areas. These enforcement activities also ensure that the restriction of movement of persons as the main component of efforts to confine and manage the spreading of COVID-19 is achieved.

Law enforcement officers are further expected to encourage and sensitise members of the public to adhere to social distancing. Even though social distancing is currently not an offence and it cannot, therefore, be enforced, law enforcement agencies must ensure that high visibility is maintained around malls, shopping centres and other areas and that the public is informed about compliance with the promulgated regulations in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002; liaise with private security to assist enforcement within their mandate, and social distancing (2 meters away from other persons) is applied in public when shopping and visiting health facilities.

Enquiries:      Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo – 082 567 4153

Colonel Brenda Muridili  – 071 686 9425

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