The South African Police Service (SAPS) has come out in defence of it members after police were widely criticised for their excessive use of force by speakers at a conference. An Institute for Security Studies (ISS) seminar on South African policing and the use of force, heard on Wednesday that there was an increase in cases of police brutality.
Speakers from both the ISS and the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) also criticised police leadership for failing to deal with the use of force in its ranks. Inadequate police training and a disregard for law and order were also identified as factors that led to police using force, the state BuaNews agency reports.
In a statement yesterday, the police pointed out that the action taken by officers were relative to the situations they faced, adding that the environment in which police worked and the type of people with which they are confronted are generally violent in 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,” it added.
Police officers who were found to be on the wrong side of the law were arrested by their colleagues. The police cooperated with organisations such as the ICD and the Secretariat in the Ministry of Police to ensure police operate within the confines of the law, the police said in a statement. It expressed “discomfort” at suggestions made at Wednesday’s seminar, including the implication that police were generally brutal in their approach.
“While SAPS top management concedes to 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 said.
The police also raised concerns that criminals would interpret the recent comments on police brutality as a show of support, and thereby be incited to continue killing police officers. “What is most 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,” Cele’s office said.
It added that such comments also highlighted the lack of support and insensitivity communities and organisations displayed when it came to police being injured or killed.