FAIR AND EQUITABLE SOCIETY (FES) HOLDS POLICE AND ARMY MEMBERS ACCOUNTABLE
Fair and Equitable Society (FES) has approached the Gauteng High Court in Tshwane on an urgent basis to have it declare that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and Minister of Defence, Nosive Mapisa-Nqakula, are liable for any form of torture carried out by their members. Videos showing the use of excessive force, violence and assault are an affront to the rights of ordinary citizens in the country. It is both concerning and appalling to see that the violent actions and gross violation of human rights is meted out along racial lines and targeting marginalised and disadvantaged groups, especially considering South Africa’s recent past of racial segregation and apartheid.
The National State of Disaster as declared by the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, did not suspend the rights of ordinary South Africans. To emphasize this assertion, President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his address to the nation just before the lockdown stated that:
“You are expected, as the pride of our nations, the soldiers of the Republic of South Africa, to go out and defend our people against this virus. Your mission is to save lives… They will be looking upon you, not as a force of might, but as a force of kindness, as a force, that is going to give them that assurance that one, they will not get the virus, and two, you will be looking after them.”
The behaviour of some individuals in the army and police towards people contravening the national lockdown rules is unacceptable and demeaning. The final decision-making authority rests with the respective Ministers of the two departments. We will be approaching the court on an urgent basis with the hope and aim of having this case heard on Tuesday, 7 April 2020.
This is not to say that those who flagrantly disobey the regulations should not be penalized – rather they should be treated within the prescribed legal framework of the lockdown. We are fighting a disease in a constitutional democracy, not a state under Marshall law. The outbreak of COVID-19 has not turned our people into mindless animals whose behaviour necessitates the infringement of their human rights, to the point of torture. Neither has it turned our public institutions into monuments
of violence. Let us continue to fight the disease and not each other. We call on the army and police to desist from their seeming attitude of “skop, skiet en donner”. Our people deserve better.