A video went viral on social media platforms on October 3, outlining how the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigerian police force shot a young man, dumped him at the side of the road and stole his car. What followed was three weeks of protests by young people against such police brutality and the corruption that defines the state; initially via social media, #EndSARS, and later in towns and cities across Nigeria.
Needless to say, the protests continued and grew into the largest in the history of Nigeria. As the protests grew, the state changed tactics and responded to the escalation with outright violence. Part of this involved the state deploying thugs to attack protestors in order to try and intimidate people off the streets. When this failed to produce the state’s desired result, it deployed the military and implemented a curfew in a number of cities. By October 20, however, the protests had spread across Nigeria. Some of the assets of the Nigerian ruling class were also targeted during these protests and the largest and most lucrative toll road in country, Lekki, in Lagos, was blockaded. On that day the military attempted to brutally end the protests and shot dead 12 people at the Lekki tollgate.
Inspired by the Events of 28th September 2016 –
Police Shooting on RU students.
“Superintendent Officer Mthembu”
by Leroy Maisiri (ZACF)
If our pain was turned into an art museum the most popular exhibit would showcase portraits of the South African Police Service with our bodies on the floor as their footstools. Our silenced screams chock up the airways in our throats, our tracheas burst out and with both hands we grab the artery veins in an attempt to contain the bleeding, trying to redirect this blood, this life back into the cause and yes, bang, bang, bang; you keep shooting and yes bang, bang, bang, we keep running.
But please first allow me to start this poetic prose in Joza extension 7, the peripheral of the township itself almost excommunicated from the centre of Grahamstown. Somewhere unclearly mapped by angry ground stones who share their space with the kind of dust that does not easily settle well on the road, is what looks like an afterthought of an RDP house. In it is Superintendent Officer Mthembu. A child of the working class. Mthembu on his tea breaks always jokes about how he wanted to be a lawyer, most of his stories start with the words “and during the apartheid…” he would recall those memories so well, remembering quite clearly all the fights, the protests, the revolutionary climate that engrossed South Africa. His stories would also always end with “…if only I could afford the fees in ’94, I would have been a qualified lawyer like Madiba”.
Members of the community of Khutsong chanted struggle songs, and demonstrated outside the Oberholzer Magistrate’s Court on the 14 January 2014. They were in support of fellow community members arrested following an infamous incident of mob justice that occurred in Khutsong in 2013. This mob justice led to the death of five people believed to be gangsters, and of one traditional healer to the gangsters. The gangsters had terrorised the community.
The community members were arrested in 2013, but the court hearing was remanded to 14 January 2014 for the bail applications, which were granted. Jack Magagabe, Willy Jongilanga, Andrew Langa, Happy Leyakane and Metsela Kgosane are being charged on twelve counts, including public violence, destruction of public property, murder and arson. The accused are being represented by a pro-bono (free) advocate.
More than 85 flying squad police cars were deployed in Khutsong in late 2013 on a “peace-keeping” mission. Many cases of police brutality were reported by the community. The township of Khutsong is not happy with how the police have been handling matters so far.
Khutsong has not been at peace, facing a high police deployment, supposedly to combat crime. The government was adamant about cleaning up the streets in Khutsong. This followed certain brutal crimes.
Police Rapid Response Teams were put in place, monitoring the usage of alcohol and drugs, and the illegal trade in goods, to try to combat and eradicate crime. The Technical Response Team was also a big part of the crime bust.
Residents in Khutsong location were neglected by the police many times, and that is why they ended up taking the law into their own hands in late 2013.
It all started when gang members killed some people, and cut off their body parts. Some then killed each other too. When the gang members attended the funeral of their fellow members, the police escorted them to the graveyard. But the gang members managed to rob people of their belongings on the way to the graveyard — in front of the police. The South African Police Services (SAPS) is failing us.
Soon after the incidents, many police were deployed to raid the location. But they arrested many innocent people for nothing, yet the gangsters remained free.
In South Africa the police are among the ones doing crime. As we have seen in the past, our senior police officials have been facing corruption charges, including two former National Commissioners, Jackie Selebi and Bheki Cele. And look what happened at Marikana, but the current police Commissioner Riah Phiyega is defending the acts of the police in the massacre.
The police shoot people, so it is clear that the police are against us. They are not here to defend us in our new so-called democracy.