An Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) report (view here) has revealed that the number of assault cases against SAPS (South African Police Force) members in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has increased by a staggering 95% this month when compared to the same period last year.
The report – tabled during an on-line meeting of the KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety Portfolio Committee held yesterday – shows that:
- To date, May 2020 has seen an increase of 95% in assault cases compared to May 2019. (actual numbers 41 in 2019 and 80 in 2020) while;
- There was also a 41.6% increase in the number of assault cases opened against law enforcement officers when comparing April 2019 and April 2020. (actual numbers are 28 in 2019 and 48 in 2020).
These figures reaffirm the validity of the DA’s concerns when it comes to the heavy-handedness of some law enforcement officers in our province while conducting their duties during lockdown. It is increasingly clear that some law enforcement officers believe that they have the ultimate mandate and that they can simply disregard an individual’s rights as per Chapter 2 of the Constitution.
The DA has been at the forefront when it comes to raising concerns around this since the start of the quarantine period and has communicated with both KZN Community Safety MEC, Bheki Ntuli and SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula.
In some instances, SAPS officers failed to interpret regulations correctly and ended up in altercations with civilians, who were then arrested and charged. Given this, it is little wonder that KZN communities have taken to social media, using the various platforms to ensure that oppressive force is highly publicized. This has painted a damning picture of SAPS and other law enforcement offices in the province and MEC Ntuli only has himself to blame for not nipping such thuggery in the bud from the onset.
KZN is still in lockdown and we have a long road ahead. It is therefore of the utmost importance that the MEC reigns in those officers who show disrespect for the law and that he deals with them immediately. The DA encourages members of the public to adhere to the lockdown regulations in order to avoid difficult situations with law enforcements officers. In the unfortunate event that you are arrested, avoid further confrontation with officers which may lead to force being used.
We will continue to monitor this issue closely. The people of our province cannot not live in fear of those who are mandated to protect them. No one is above the law, including law enforcement officers.