Police torture rate a cause for concern

FILE PICTURE: Members of the South African Police Services. Picture: Morapedi Mashashe

FILE PICTURE: Members of the South African Police Services. Picture: Morapedi Mashashe

Gauteng police’s alleged low torture rate is surprising since the province is notorious for having the most sophisticated organised crime syndicates.

The senior researcher for the Institute for Security Studies’ crime and justice programme, Dr Johan Burger, told The Citizen that Gauteng had three reported police torture cases compared to the Eastern Cape’s 35 cases during the past financial year.

Burger said the information, based on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (Ipid) annual report, was worrying as it was out of the ordinary for the Eastern Cape to have such a high number of torture cases.

“Ipid’s report doesn’t explain what torture entails, so one is led to speculate,” said Burger.

“KwaZulu-Natal used to have a bad reputation of police using such methods to obtain information; however the number has been reduced to eight.”

He added that the 50 reported cases of torture at the hands of police countrywide was a cause of concern.

In its report, the Ipid claimed that the country was a participant in the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“Due to the gap in our legal framework, which does not criminalise torture, offences allegedly committed as torture can’t be prosecuted as such,” the report states.

Burger added that the Western Cape’s 1 142 reported assault cases against police officers was a huge concern compared to Gauteng’s 566 assault cases.

“Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act allows police to use some measure of force, but police do tend to overstep their boundaries of defence,” said Burger.

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