Today South Africa commemorates Human Rights Day on March 21, 1960, in what is historically known as the Sharpeville Massacre – where apartheid police mowed down 69 men, women and unarmed children during a demonstration against the pass laws which was organized by the PAC under the leadership of Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe.
Massacres, police brutality and human rights abuses were rife during the apartheid era.
Even on the eve of a new dawn, police brutality and massacres have never ceased. The Boipatong massacre and the Munsieville murders are two examples of police killings during the transition period, when the ANC, the National Party and other parties were still negotiating a peaceful political settlement.
After 1994, we had a new democratic dispensation and constitution that guaranteed the right to life and protection for every citizen of this country, and yet the killing of blacks, in particular, at the hands of the police, continues.
The shooting and murder of 33-year-old father Andries Tatane during service delivery protests in Ficksburg in 2011 sent shockwaves across South Africa and what was even more unjustifiable, c is that the seven police officers accused of his murder were acquitted of all crimes two years later.
Then, a year later, in 2012, the Marikana massacre took place. Police used lethal force to beat Lonmin miners and killed 32 of them within hours, by far the deadliest manifestation of brutality since 1994.
Today, 61 years after Sharpeville, the list of police murders continues to grow in South Africa. This week alone, Mthokozisi Ntumba’s family had to bury their tragically deceased son in Braamfontein last week at the hands of the police.
Ntumba was coming out of a doctor’s office when the police shot him at point blank range during a student protest against exclusion from university due to student debt. They left him to die on the sidewalk as they continued to fire rubber bullets at demonstrating students.
Activist and leader of the Soweto uprising in 1976, Seth Mazibuko, said the killing of blacks by the police had not changed and remained the same even after the removal of the apartheid government.
“The way black people were killed by apartheid police has not changed. The lives of black people do not matter, even under black government. The police are still prepared and trained as they were during apartheid, that if it is a black person they must shoot to kill and every black person is a criminal, Mazibuko said.
“The SANDFs did not go to Alex and elsewhere to protect people from the Covid-19 pandemic, but to shoot and kill black people. In Marikana, they were tasked with protecting the system from black criminals. They also did this during #Feesmustfall protesters who spoke out and pronounced black poverty and fought for black inclusion, ”Mazibuko said.
Mazibuko also accused the government of protecting the interests of “capitalists and those who stole our land”, adding that they profit from the murder of blacks.
“You cannot ask the government to do enough to protect black people while they are busy protecting the capitalists and those who have stolen our land. They have a lot to gain from killing black people.
How Mthokozisi’s (Ntumba) Family Celebrates Human Rights, How Excluded Wits Students Celebrate Human Rights Day What happened in Sharpeville on this day there, under the apartheid government? Mazibuko asked.
According to political analyst Dr Metji Makgoba, the murder of blacks is part of the legacy of colonialism that has not been addressed since South Africa became a democratic country in 1994.
“Since the South African police, as a cultural, legal and social institution of neo-colonialism, do not consider blacks as human beings, raping and killing them becomes ideologically and naturally acquired because the police themselves. even does not consider us human and cannot have any form of ethical relationship with us.
“These are the legacies of colonialism that have not been dealt with since 1994. The South African police are a racist organization led by blacks which systematically inflicts violence against blacks,” he accused.
“White supremacy built black people as violent, non-human beings and continues to be the normative and guiding cadre of the South African police force that naturalized and normalized violence against blacks.
“As a result, there is a long-standing perception that associates black people with violence. Police regard black people with suspicion because they do not view them as humans. This is compounded by the fact that the government expects violence only from blacks. Black people have to burn things to get the attention of their own black government, ”he said.
Political analyst Xolani Dube said the killing of blacks by police had been normalized.
“People were killed under colonialism and the same thing happened during apartheid and even after 1994. The life of a black person has become worthless in South Africa. This is because there is no political will and protection from the black government to value and honor black life. “
While Dr Ralph Mathekga said it was concerning that the majority of the country’s people, made up of blacks, fear the police.
“It’s a travesty and a concern. It cannot continue normally. South Africa needs to have this dialogue where proactive steps are taken so that we take common responsibility. “
Institute for Security Studies (ISS) researcher Gareth Newham blamed the politicization of SAPS.
“The National Development Plan identifies“ serial top management crises ”in the police. For most of our democracy, none of the permanently appointed SAPS National Commissioners was a highly experienced, trained police officer with impeccable integrity.
“Since 2012, following the appointment of Riah Phiyega, SAPS has entered a serious decline which has continued. Marikana’s lessons have not been learned, those responsible for the deaths of 34 striking miners have not been held accountable and very little has changed.
Newham said the Independent Police Investigations Directorate (Ipid) did not have sufficient resources to tackle police brutality.
“However, it’s not Ipid’s job to end police brutality. Rather, it is expected to investigate only allegations against specific police officers. According to the SAPS law, it is the responsibility of the national SAPS commissioner to ensure that the police are disciplined and, where appropriate, that those involved in wrongdoing are held directly responsible, ”he said.
Ipid spokeswoman Ndileka Cola told the Sunday Independent on Thursday that she would consider the questions and respond to them. However, she did not respond.
The Sunday Independent