Police release guidelines for the use of force during lockdown

Guidelines for the use of force by security forces enforcing the lockdown were released this week, in line with an order by the high court in Pretoria.

On May 15, Judge Hans Fabricius made a series of orders in the case of Collins Khosa, who died after an altercation with the South African National Defence Force and the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department. His family said he was brutally assaulted by the soldiers and police officers and died a few hours later.

One of Fabricius’s orders was that guidelines for the use of force during the lockdown must be developed and publicised within five days. 

On Tuesday, attorneys for the South African Police Service (Saps) said they were expecting to appeal the decision. The guidelines — set out in a circular from national police commissioner Khehla Sitole — are dated May 19. It was unclear on Thursday morning, May 21, whether the police still intended to pursue an appeal because the Saps could not immediately be reached for comment. 

The 12-page guideline sets out in detail the limited circumstances in which enforcement officers may use force to secure an arrest: “A member who uses force for any other purpose (such as to punish or teach a suspect a lesson) may himself or herself be guilty of an offence, such as assault, assault GBH [with intent to do grievous bodily harm], attempted murder etc.”


It also says that the use or attempted of torture is a criminal offence, adding that torture includes inflicting pain on a person to get information or punish them. “No exception, such as a state of disaster, a state of war or a threat of war, state of emergency, internal political or any other public emergency will  serve as a justification for torture — there can simply be no justification for torture, ever.”

Fabricius also ordered that internal investigations by the police and defence ministries had to be finalised and submitted to court by June 4.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian
Advertising

Reinstated Ingonyama Trust managers hit with retrenchment notices

The effect of Covid-19 and the land reform department’s freeze of R23-million because the ITB didn’t comply with budget submissions are cited as some of the reasons for the staff cuts

Battle over R6bn workers’ retirement fund

Allegations from both sides tumble out in court papers

Nigeria’s anti-corruption boss arrested for corruption

Ibrahim Magu’s arrest by the secret police was a surprise — but also not surprising

Eskom refers employees suspected of contracts graft for criminal investigations

The struggling power utility has updated Parliament on investigations into contracts where more than R4-billion was lost in overpayments
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday