In my short year as a journalist last year -I called the Independent Complaints Directorate quite a few times- spokespeople Moses Dlamini and Tiyani Sambo were very helpful and always got back to me. As media spokespeople go, you don’t get much better than them.
I called the ICD often because police brutality is not that uncommon an occurrence.
In service delivery protests in March last year, two protesters were killed in Lebohang, Mpumalanga by police. One was killed in the protest, another was killed by police rubber bullets when the funeral of the first man turned into a demonstration. I never reported on it cause the radio station I worked at didn’t cover many stories from Mpumalanga. But the ICD’s Dlamini confirmed to me that the unit was investigating two deaths caused by police action in Lebohang.
Then one Saturday night in December, Terror-accused Henry Okah‘s wife phoned the newsroom saying police had raided her house in Turfontein. She said they had assaulted her tenants- killing one of them. He was a quiet Nigerian, she said. Police that raided the house were investigating drug dealing. The cops were also camouflaged which makes me wonder how quiet and respectable Okah’s tenants really were.
The ICD investigated the death of the Nigerian that Okah said had died by being dunked into a bath full of water while handcuffed. However the autopsy was inconclusive and so the ICD said toxicology reports needed to be done (blood tests for drugs and the like) . Toxicology reports would take another 3 years, said Dlamini, due to laboratory backup – leaving the police under investigation off the hook. The 3 year waiting list is because there is only one forensic lab servicing 5 provinces- Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Free State.
Andries Tatane’s death is tragic but it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to police brutality. Zapiro’s was brilliant- as usual- when he wrote on his cartoon“Shoot to Kill” or “Shoot the Boer”– which song should be prosecuted?