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Shocking footage of South African police brutality surfaces on Facebook
A horrified bystander bears witness to state violence.
In a vicious attack recorded on video by a bystander, multiple Western Cape Police officers, along with unidentified security personnel, can be seen beating and kicking a man they had detained and stripped nude on a street in Cape Town, South Africa.
The graphic video was uploaded to Facebook and racked up 400 likes before the social network removed it. You can still watch the disturbing and certainly NSFW footage on YouTube. What’s immediately striking is that all five officers seem incapable of handcuffing just this one suspect—and don’t hesitate to drop an elbow on his spine or kick him in his exposed genitals in front of several eyewitnesses.
The bystander, who has prudently chosen to remain anonymous, told South African news broadcaster eNCA that police approached her office after she asked why they were assaulting the man. She was threatened with arrest, while a friend who was also on the scene was arrested “for alleged police interference,” a charge withdrawn shortly after.
In a Twitter update, the South African Police Service indicated that they were aware of the video and taking steps to investigate the actions depicted.
Alleged conduct by WC Kensington members – WC Prov Commissioner’s Office instituted steps to establish the facts & take the matter further.
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) March 7, 2014
Violent crime and police brutality have long been problems in South Africa. Indeed, they often seem to go hand in hand: the former is on the rise, while media coverage of incidents where SAPS officers assaulted and sometimes even killed people in their custody has fairly exploded in the past year.
Taken in that sense, this case is sadly not as shocking as it ought to be.
Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions, and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'