Sibusiso Mtsweni (Attorney)
The police are quite often faced with situations, whereby they must use force. This is necessary for the performance of their duties. In cases where the police must arrest suspects and they resist arrest or attempt to flee, the police are permitted to use force which is reasonably necessary and proportional in the circumstances to overcome the resistance or to prevent suspects from fleeing.
Furthermore, the law tries to protect suspects from the abuse of this power by requiring that the suspect must pose a serious threat to the arrestor or any other person, alternatively the crime that the suspect is alleged to have committed involves serious infliction of bodily harm.
Police brutality occurs when the police use more force than is necessary to perform their duties. Therefore, police brutality is abuse of power in that excessive force is used to achieve a goal i.e arresting a person which minimal force can achieve
Police brutality is not limited to instances where police officers effect arrest or searches and seizures. Putting a suspect in a cell with no food or water without legal representation and being released without being charged may also be described as police brutality.
Furthermore there have been cases, where police officers assaulted civilians for no reason. In the case of Naidoo v Minister of Police (2015) ZASCA 152 the appellant was assaulted by a police officer whilst seeking assistance. It was not necessary to even use force, the above case reiterates the fact that police brutality is the use of unnecessary power.
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