Deaths In Police Custody

The inquiry into the death of Ahmed Timol who died while in police custody in 1971 rightly needs to be regarded with compassion and lament that human rights were callously disregarded during the apartheid era (Daily News, June 28). But to confine such feelings to that era is wrong.

In the second edition of his book How long can South Africa survive,  RW Johnson, states “torture and maltreatment of prisoners in police custody have sky-rocketed to a level far worse than under apartheid” (p. 177).

A report in the Daily News of March 4, 2013, confirms that. It noted that between 2006 and 2011, some 4,000 people had died whilst in police custody. In contrast, between 1963 and 1985 – the apartheid era – there were 74 deaths in police custody. In that torture and deaths in police custody are associated with the apartheid era, how, then, does one account for the blatant disregard that is occurring under the ANC government of section 12 of the constitution which concerns the security of persons and which forbids torture and inhuman treatment?

Remembering those who died for their beliefs before 1994 is well and good. But to disregard far greater violations of human rights that are occurring under a regime which claims to have brought ‘liberation’ is hypocrisy

Sent to The Daily News and published, 30 June 2017.

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