SAFTU calls on President Ramaphosa to establish a Board of inquiry into SAPS

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Sello Theletsane

JOHANNESBURG- The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has written with shock to President Cyril Ramaphosa following the news of the brutal assault meted against the President of the South African Policing Union, comrade Mpho Kwinika.

This comes after SAPU President, Mpho Kwinika was arrested by the police, on what Saftu said were “clearly trumped-up charges”, and was taken to the Sunnyside Police Station where eight police officials without any provocation simply beat him to a pulp.

SAFTU has since labelled this act by the police as a reminiscent of the dark days where there was a mentality of “skit en doner”.

“This assault lasted several hours. In this process, they broke his arm, burst his eardrum and he has suspected broken ribs. In the ordeal that lasted six hours before charging him, they refused him his right to inform his lawyers and family. They refused him medical treatment. They denied him a right to ablution – toilet facilities. He was forced to sleep on his own urine the whole night.

“This type of treatment of trade unions is what the Botha and Smuts regimes only reserved for its worse political opponents. Now right the under the noise of the so-called new dawn this is still happening again. Sunnyside Police station has been transformed into Zimbabwe’s notorious Chikurubi prison where torture and beating of government political opponents have become a special skill and trade”, SAFTU said in a statement.

SAFTU further added that it has strongly condemned this barbarism by the police who the constitution places on their shoulders the protection of the tenants of the constitution.

The constitution, which is the supreme law of this country amongst others, gives every citizen the rights stipulated as follows:

Freedom and security of the person
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right

a) Not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause
b) Not to be detained without trial;
c) To be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources;
d) Not to be tortured in any way; and
e) Not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.

“This Bill of Right we were only celebrating last Thursday, the 21 March was simply shredded by the police who rolled the clock back to pre 1994 era of police brutality. The trumped-up charges they laid against the SAPU President are laughable if this matter was not so serious. They are disturbing the public peace, drinking in public, resisting arrest and assaulting police officials”.

SAFTU further said: “SAFTU categorically agrees with SAPU that the wrongful arrest, brutal assault and humiliation he suffered is not innocent or neutral. There is no coincidence between the call made by SAPU on yourself as the President to establish a board of inquiry on SAPS, similar to the board you have established on the workings of the intelligence community. The rogue elements within SAPS are apparently responding to this call in kind.

“We believe the top brass of the SAPS have huge scandals and corruption to hide hence this act of desperation to intimidate the leaders of the SAPU. We fear that the General Secretary of SAPU, comrade Tumelo Mogodiseng is going to be next to be arrested and subjected to the same treatment. He too is being followed by unmarked cars just like Mpho Kwinika was subjected to the same treatment”.

According to SAFTU, Mpho Kwinika was followed for a week and his car number plates ripped off before the so-called arrest and they believe that every leader of SAPU is now living in fear.

“This act of violence has convinced us that Commissioner Khehla Sithole is not fit to hold office. We refuse to believe that he has nothing to do with this cowardice act of intimidation.

“We are writing this letter to make the following demands and calls in your capacity as the
President of the Republic;

a) An immediate high-level investigation by a neutral and independent body should be
conducted.

b) All the police that were involved in the brutal assault on Mpho Kwinika should be placed on immediate suspension.

c) The management who ordered the arrest must be placed on suspension.

d) Khehla Sithole must be immediately placed on suspension pending the result of the probe on his fitness to hold the office he occupies as the National Commissioner and after the board of inquiry requested by SAPU has tabled its report on SAPS.

In conclusion, SAFTU said that they will lay a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission as well as with the International Labour Organisation to unmask a government that pretends to have buried torture yet now allow conditions where torture rears its ugly head.

“We are perturbed that this government in cohorts with its sweetheart unions in the public sector including in state-owned enterprises work hard to deny the right of workers to freedom of association”.