Alex Duval Smith: Events show the police are both inept and brutal

The police have not collected names and addresses of the 270 men held in 12 days

Share
Related Topics

By firing live bullets at protesters armed with clubs and spears on 16 August, the South African police showed they were inept at crowd control. They have now demonstrated that they are incapable of checking names and addresses.

Let us assume for a moment that it is fine for the prosecution to charge 270 Marikana miners with murdering 34 fellow demonstrators. Let us accept the prosecution spokesman Frank Lesenyego's word that the move is just a technicality to block bail and assume the charge will be reduced for most of the men to public order offences.

But even if that happens, what we have is a state prosecutor covering for a police force that is not ready to present evidence to court, 12 days after the incident. What evidence? The names and addresses of the 270 men.

The prosecutor Nigel Carpenter says the state is "stretched for resources", a corny assertion when it relates to possibly the most high-profile incident in South Africa since the end of apartheid. What is more worrying is what this inept and brutal police force is doing with the time it is buying. The accusations are – from defence lawyers and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) – that the detained miners are being assaulted in custody as the police seek revenge for the killing of two police officers at Marikana on 13 August.

The Independent Complaints Directorate, as Ipid was formerly known, investigated 1,769 cases of people dying in police custody or as a result of police action in 2010. Last year, almost 5,000 claims of murder, torture and misconduct by police officers were reported.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

 

Naturism criminalised: Why not being able to bare all is a bummer

Simon Usborne
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on