May 27 2011
Police management have slammed some of South Africa’s leading criminologists, saying comments made at a police brutality workshop will do nothing but intensify criminal attacks on police.
Thursday’s scathing attack from National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele’s office came a day after criminologists and the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) said the country was facing a police brutality crisis.
Criminologists David Bruce and Andrew Faull, who addressed the media at an Institute of Security Studies (ISS) workshop on policing and the use of force, laid the blame on police management negligence, criminal elements in the SAPS ranks, poor training and blatant disregard for internal disciplinary procedures.
The SAPS failed to attend the workshop, with Cele and Gauteng Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros saying they were in meetings for three days. It is not known why they did not send representatives to the workshop.
Lieutenant-General Mzwandile Petros
In an e-mail sent out to the country’s media houses, national police spokesman, Colonel Vish Naidoo, reacted to the “deliberate and scathing attack on the SAPS”, saying: “The SAPS has read with absolute discomfort the suggestions made by key figures of institutions and organisations that police are generally ‘brutal’ in their approach.
Colonel Vish Naidoo
“While SAPS top management concedes (there have been) isolated cases where police have acted outside the boundaries of the law, in terms of which the police officials involved are being dealt with both criminally and departmentally, we feel such comments and suggestions do not help our cause to minimise criminal attacks on police.
“It is a well-known fact that the environment that police work in and the type of people police are confronted by are generally of a violent nature.
“The actions of police are normally relative to the situations they are faced with, notwithstanding the fact that police management neither promotes nor condones police officers who may deliberately disregard the constitutional rights of our citizens.”
Naidoo said verification of this was the number of police officers arrested by their colleagues for a variety of crimes.
“We also co-operate wholeheartedly with organisations like the ICD and the secretariat in the Ministry of Police that are in place to oversee objectively the running of the police within the confines of the law.”
At the workshop, however, ICD spokesman Moses Dlamini said: “Co-operation is one of the biggest challenges the ICD faces when it comes to investigations into the police as there is no legislation compelling the SAPS to report any incident to the ICD.”
Naidoo said what was alarming “is that this deliberate scathing attack on the SAPS comes at a time when there seems to be a deliberate killing and maiming of our police officers throughout the country”.
“Surely such comments … could be interpreted by criminals as a show of support (for them) them, thus inciting them to continue with the killing of our officers.”
Commenting, Bruce said:
“The incidents where police members misuse force are not isolated, but (show) the SAPS’s own approach to dealing with the use of force is inadequate. These inadequacies also contribute to the problem of killings of police and undermine their image.“The arguments the SAPS is putting forward are the very reason why the use of force requires far more attention at a management level.”