Media statement by Mr Bongani Msomi, UDM Secretary General

Understandably so police brutality is an emotive issue in a country with our history. However, we never in our wildest dreams thought that, post-1994, we would again see brutal police violence.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) is concerned about the number of incidents of late of egregious police brutality and indiscriminate use of force. The ill-considered “shoot first-ask questions later” rhetoric by senior politicians and police officers sketches a bleak picture of a “new policing policy”. This is evidenced by Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega’s attitude towards the Marikana Massacre and now Free State MEC for police, Butana Kompela, has defended violent police action in Henneman where four alleged criminals were killed.

The passing of Andries Tatane in 2011 and the death in 2013 of a Mozambican taxi driver after being dragged behind a police van – to name but two – are still fresh in our memories. When the families of Elais Thage and Tsholofelo Mothobi buried their children at the weekend much animosity was directed our police services.

The UDM does not dispute that the police has a tough job and we support zero-tolerance to crime, but to laugh off police brutality makes a mockery of our laws and is immoral.

Experts have said that it is not small number of officers who act illegally, but that the problem is systemic and widespread, and that it is going to keep on happening. In some instances communities feel justified in retaliating. Despite what our police leaders seem to be proponents of South Africa cannot tolerate a trigger happy police force.

In this regard we believe that intensifying police training, especially in the code of conduct, and revisiting the curriculum to enhance overall levels of competence and capacity would be part of the solution. Those officers who make themselves guilty of abusing their positions of trust, should not be defended; they should face the full might of the law.

We are hopeful that our new Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, will well acquit himself of his job. The UDM however suggests that he institute a judicial commission of inquiry into police brutality to get to the bottom of this scourge.