Brutality: more SA police quizzed

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The Independent Online
JOHANNESBURG (AP) - Eight more South African police officers face suspension after the BBC showed footage of suspected thieves being beaten and kicked. Police dogs were also set upon them, and one man had a cigarette extinguished on his head.

Last week six white officers were suspended in connection with the videotaped beatings of the suspects, who were black or of mixed race. Some were handcuffed at the time.

A police spokesman, Chris Wilken, said eight more officers were served on Friday with notices that they would be suspended on Monday. The officers could appeal against the suspensions in writing before then. Some of the eight were black, he said, although he did not know how many.

The abuse of black and mixed-race suspects by mostly white police recalled the days of apartheid. But many observers said the case was a result of the police working under too much stress rather than it being an example of racially motivated police brutality. Dozens of police officers, who are battling a wave of violent crime in South Africa, have been killed or have committed suicide in the past year.

Two of the suspects on the video were arrested on 15 January on suspicion of car theft. At one point, an officer puts out his cigarette on the head of one of the suspects. Police then set an Alsatian dog on the handcuffed suspects, and it bites them on their arms.

On another segment of the tape, shot on 24 January, two suspected carjackers crash their car. Police drag the semiconscious men from the wreckage and beat one with a rifle. One suspect later died in hospital, but it was unclear if his death was caused by the crash, the beatings or something else.