CSPRI raises questions on prosecution of police officers for torture

Prof Lukas Muntingh, a project head at Community Law Centre’s Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative,has written an interesting opinion article in today’s Mail&Guardian on the assault case against former SAPS warrant officers David Gunn and Gerrit Januarie.

 The two were filmed by a member of the public when they brutally assaulted a Nigerian man and stripped him naked in a Cape Town street. The case was postponed last week until August 18 2014. In the article he questions if these police officers will ever be prosecuted for torture?

He goes on to ask if this how police officers behave after they had been working for SAPS for 20 years under democratic rule? Have they been entirely untouched by the Bill of Rights and more specifically the minimum force requirement in the Criminal Procedure Act, or the absolute prohibition of torture in the Constitution? While they must be held to account for what they did, some of the blame must also be placed on the police leadership.

The fact of the matter is that SAPS management is reluctant to take disciplinary action against errant officials even when the Independent Complaints Directorate and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) recommended this. For example, of the 788 cases recommended by Ipid for disciplinary action in 2012/13, this was followed in 16.7% of cases.


Criminal prosecutions against police officers are an even rarer event. Of the 545 cases recommended by Ipid for prosecution in 2012/13, this happened in 14.3% of cases. In the end only 27 police officers were sentenced to direct imprisonment, or 4.9%. It is the poor enforcement of discipline and weak management that creates the environment for Gunn and Januarie to behave in the manner they did.
Complete article here…

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