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Of the three arms of government, the judiciary remains the most committed to the Constitution and to the rule of law. The judiciary continuously redeems South Africa. The legislature and the executive routinely fail our country and people in not upholding the rule of law.

Judge Bert Bam of the North Gauteng High Court stated quite bluntly in court today that police officers have clear legal obligations under South African law. It was unlawful of the police, therefore, to arrest Mido Macia for a traffic offence and illegal of them to handcuff him. The judge readily accepted that Macia was entitled to resist the police handcuffing him for a traffic violation. Officer Malele, the judge found, wanted to make an example of Mido Macia. The other officers became complicit in his illegal and inhumane course of action.

Video footage and pathological evidence showed clearly that Macia suffered serious injuries while he was dragged behind the police van. Furthermore, the police also most likely assaulted him in prison. Marcia succumbed to these injuries and died.

As happened at Marikana, the police did not summon medical personnel to attend to Macia’s serious injuries. They could easily have foreseen death resulting from his injuries but they did nothing. The police defence was that Macia fell against a bench and thus seriously injured himself. This was reminiscent of the defence that apartheid era police often made of prisoners fatally injuring themselves. Our police are going in the same direction as their apartheid predecessors.

COPE challenges the Minister of Police to call a press conference immediately and to denounce in the strongest terms possible the use of gratuitous violence by police. Furthermore, he must speak out against police officers failing to fulfil their legal obligations to those whom they arrest and detain. Criminals who don the uniform of the police, to commit acts of barbarity, degrade our criminal justice system. We wait to see whether the Minister of Police will stand up for the rule of law.

COPE will continually urge the necessity for all in our society to uphold the rule of law. That is the only safeguard we have.

COPE, therefore, is pleased with the tough stance of the courts against those who violate our constitution and our laws. They must continue to redeem us in this way.

Issued by Dennis Bloem on behalf of COPE

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