SAPS capacitates its complaints centre to deal with allegations of police brutality

The police commissioner has sent out fresh, detailed guidelines on how SAPS and municipal police must conduct themselves after complaints of torture, excessive force, inhuman treatment and punishment have come to the fore during the Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The police say the centre will be for the public to report allegations of police brutality or cruel, inhumane and/or degrading treatment and/or punishment.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) have said that the service’s complaints centre will be capacitated to deal with allegations of police brutality during the lockdown.

In a statement on Tuesday, the SAPS said this was in response to the judgment handed down on Friday 15 May by Judge Hans Fabricius in the High Court in Pretoria in the matter of Collins Khosa.

Fabricius ruled in favour of Khosa’s family, who had launched an urgent application after he was beaten to death, allegedly by members of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) in Alexandra, Johannesburg, in March.

GroundUp reported that in handing down the ruling, the judge reprimanded the ministers of police and defence, Bheki Cele and Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, respectively, for their brutality during the lockdown.

The publication reported that the judge ordered court supervision over the following:

  1. That the police and military must place those involved in the alleged torture and subsequent death of Alexandra resident Collins Khosa on suspension within five days.
  2. Within two days, command all members to adhere to the absolute prohibition on torture, cruel or inhuman or degrading treatment and that only minimum force can be applied. Within five days, caution all members that if they fail to report, or repress, or prevent any such acts, they can face criminal/civil sanction or disciplinary action
  3. They must lodge affidavits with the court that this has been done within seven days.
  4. Develop a code of conduct and operating procedures, including when the use of force is permitted and how lockdown regulations should be enforced and widely published within five days.
  5. Establish a freely accessible mechanism for public reporting and widely publicise this within five days.
  6. Ensure that all investigations into the death of Khosa and the treatment of any other person who has complained of lockdown abuses, are completed and reports furnished to the court by 4 June.
  7. IPID must file its report on its investigation to Khosa’s death with the court by 22 May.

The police said on Tuesday that its complaints centre would be for the public to report allegations of police brutality or cruel, 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 or 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 members of the public 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 originated 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,” the statement said.

Last week, in response to the judge’s criticism of Cele, levelled at the ruling on the Khosa matter, the minister said he had not made “any illegal statements”.

With regards to Cele’s comment that the “SAPS will destroy the infrastructure where liquor is sold”, the judge said the minister “was being extremely irresponsible and would have had no way of knowing or ensuring that SAPS members would not take these comments literally or seriously”.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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