The South African Federation of Trade Unions, SAFTU is shocked, disgusted and dismayed at the brutal assault of the President of the South African Policing Union, comrade Mpho Kwinika.
In an act reminiscent with the dark days where there was a mentality of “skit en doner”, police arrested Mpho Kwinika on what is clearly trumped up charges and took him to the Sunnyside police station in Pretoria where eight police officials without any provocation simply beat him to pulp.
This assault lasted several hours and in this process they broke his arm, burst his eardrum and has a suspected broken ribs. In the ordeal that lasted six hours before charging him, they refused him his right to inform his lawyers and family and also refused him medical treatment. They denied him a right to ablution – toilet facilities. And through all that, he was forced to sleep on his own urine the whole night.
This type of treatment on trade unions is what the Botha and Smuts regimes only reserved for its worse political opponents. Now right under the noise of the so-called new dawn this is still happening again. Sunnyside Police station has been transformed into the Zimbabwe’s notorious Chikurubi prison where torture and beating of government political opponents has become a special skill and trade.
SAFTU strongly condemns this barbarism by the police who the constitution places on their shoulders, the protection of the tenants of the constitution.
The constitution, which is the supreme law of this country amongst others, gives every citizen the rights stipulated as follows:
Freedom and security of the person
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom and security of the person, which includes the right—
a) Not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause
b) Not to be detained without trial;
c) To be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources;
d) Not to be tortured in any way; and
e) Not to be treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.
This Bill of Right we were only celebrating last Thursday, the 21 March was simply shredded by the police who rolled the clock back to pre 1994 era of police brutality.
The trumped up charges they laid against the SAPU President are laughable if this matter was not so serious. They are:
1. Disturbing public peace
2. Drinking in public
3. Resisting arrest
4. Assaulting police officials
SAFTU categorically agree with SAPU that the wrongful arrest, brutal assault and humiliation he suffered is not innocent or neutral. There is no coincidence between the call made by SAPU on President Cyril Ramaphosa to establish a board of inquiry on SAPS similar to the board he established on the workings of the intelligence community. The rogue elements within SAPS are apparently responding to this call in kind. They have huge scandals and corruption to hide hence this act of desperation to intimidate the leaders of SAPU. We fear that the General Secretary of SAPU, comrade Tumelo Mogodiseng is going to be next to be arrested and subjected to the same treatment. He too is being followed by unmarked cars just like Mpho Kwinika was subjected to same treatment. Mpho Kwinika was followed for a week and his car number plates teared off before the so-called arrest. Every leader of SAPU is now living in fear!
SAPU and SAFTU, which seemingly represent a threat to the corrupt and the capitalist class, will not be intimidated. Nothing including torture and death shall deter us to represent the best interests of workers and the marginalised. We shall continue to be outspoken, as this is exactly what workers said we must be when we formed a new Federation that is independent but not apolitical, worker controlled and campaigning.
Quite clearly its apparent that Commissioner Khehla Sithole is not fit to hold office. His appointment represents an insult to President Ramaphosa so called new dawn.
We are writing a letter to the President in which we will make the following calls:
a) An immediate high-level investigation by a neutral and independent body should be conducted.
b) All the police that were involved in the brutal assault on Mpho Kwinika should be placed on immediate suspension.
c) The management who ordered the arrest must be placed on suspension.
d) Khehla Sithole must be immediately placed on suspension pending the result of the probe on his fitness to hold the office he occupies as the National Commissioner.
SAFTU calls on workers, in particular those with the polices services and all South Africans of conscious to demonstrate against these apartheid era tactics when Mpho Kwinika appears in the Pretoria Court on the 27 March 2019. We demand the unconditional withdrawal of all the charges laid against him. On his part Mpho Kwinika is in the process of laying a charge with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) who we hope will leave no stone unturned in investigating these acts that are reminiscent with how union leaders are being treated in Zimbabwe and other parts of undemocratic world.
We shall also lay a complain with the International Labour Organisation to unmask a government that pretends to have buried torture yet now allow conditions where torture rears its ugly head. Almost daily, this government in cohorts with its sweetheart unions in the public sector including in state owned enterprises work to deny the right of workers to freedom of association as it seeks to prop up the alliance that is now based on the betrayal of workers and the poor.