A new week, a new town, a new police brutality video
- Greg Marinovich
- 04 Mar 2013 10:32 (South Africa)
A new week, a new town, a new police brutality video
Just days after we watched Mido Macia get dragged behind a police van, another video of police brutality has emerged. It is a horrific, numbingly-brutal piece of footage that shows the senseless beating of a barely conscious man by a fat policeman in Vaalwater. And yet, I felt no surprise or astonishment; just anger, disillusion and fear for South Africa.
The killing of Mido Macia in Daveyton was filmed by a community member on a cellphone. There is no such evidence of what happened later at the police station. If the South African policemen shown in that video felt comfortable enough to brutalize a man for a minor traffic infringement, and (just possibly) for him attempting to grab a police weapon, what punishment did they inflict on him inside their station?
We might never know exactly. But there are other videos, of other incidents. As journalists have started to look at police brutality more seriously in the wake of Macia's death, the New York Times reported on another instance of police brutality that was caught on camera.
The little town of Vaalwater in Limpopo is off the beaten track, nudging against the Waterberg. I passed it once. Can't remember much. Yet after watching this video, which was apparently shot in 2011, but posted in 2012, I will never forget that dorp's name. The Vaalwater footage is more horrifying than the Daveyton video. It is as if bored plattelanders choreographed a piece to flesh out Hannah Arendt's concept of "the banality of evil".
A single hefty policeman is shown dragging, kicking and beating a slender young man in the most bored manner possible. His demeanour is one of irritation rather than anger, as if the young victim's elasticity annoys him. The youth is clearly not a threat to the cop, yet he stomps on the unconscious man's head repeatedly. A friend of the victim tries to help the policeman get the unconscious body into the back of the Vaalwater police van, and he is klapped for his troubles.
According to the New York Times, one bystander says: "Beat him, but don't kill him." This perfectly epitomises the fear, built over generations, that South Africans have of the police: there is a tacit acceptance of the police's right to savagely beat someone in the course of their duties.
WATCH: Police Brutality in Vaalwater.
This and the Daveyton video show us as a nation of people without moral courage, without the backbone to confront inhumanity. We will tolerate, even encourage, violent, fascist policing, as long as we are not the direct victims ourselves.
We are not alien victims of a brutal police – we created them. They are part of our fabric of society, they live among us, they are our fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. It is part of our vigilante or Kommando mentality, of our willingness to resort to mob justice without a qualm, of the mentality that allowed torture and killings to happen at Quatro camp, of torture and execution at John Vorster Square, of looking to our churches for heavenly reward while our finest hunted down 'terrorists' on the borders and in the townships. Of feeding pap en melk to our sons after they return from a long night of housebreaking or car hijacking.
What are we going to do about it? When are we going start healing the soul that's been ruptured so many times that we can hear another news item about another senseless killing and then return to our evening meals? How are we to look at our collective mirror tomorrow morning and still see ourselves as good, sensible people? And continue living as though nothing has happened?
We are certainly reaping what we sowed over the centuries of violence. This scourge will not go away easily. DM
- In pictures: The People’s Climate March, New York
- Marikana Commission: Lonmin under a scorching spotlight
- Marikana: When comrades clash, it is the truth that suffers
- Marikana Commission: When ‘warning shots’ kill and wound
- Marikana massacre: The first of Lonmin’s voices are heard
- Marikana Commission: All for naught?
- Marikana Commission: Man and his truth – a story of the policeman who was not afraid
- Will Marikana’s Mr X be a game changer?
- Rape as spectacle, rape as genocide: Notes from Rwanda, 1995
- In photos: The prison of the Rwandan Génocidaires
- The Shell House Massacre: Another piece of the bloody puzzle emerges
- The Truth Elusive: Shell House massacre, 20 years later
- Farlam Commission: More Marikana massacre secrets and lies
- Marikana Commission: The long game reveals itself
- The law, poker and service delivery protests: Up close with Charles Nesson, Messianic US lawman
- Molhem Barakat: Death of a teenage lensman raises ethical concerns of war photography
- Makgabeng: Limpopo's ancient protest art
- Marikana, one year later: the hell above and below ground
- The truth, endangered: Miners' representatives withdraw from Farlam Commission
- As Farlam returns, the truth about the massacre remains a distant, perhaps impossible goal
- Africa’s photojournalists: The wars are not over
- Mandela & me: A journey of uncertainty and perception in the shadow of a legend
- NUM, AMCU, Marikana: ‘Tis the Season to be Bloody
- Thank you, Guptas
- Conflict of Interest, Inc: Mining unions' leaders were representing their members while in corporations' pay
- Chechnya, a story written in blood and tears
- Marikana Commission: Under oath, Phiyega’s bald-faced lie exposed
- A new week, a new town, a new police brutality video
- Marikana aftermath: As the Commission plays on, there's still no equality before the law
- Truth & lies: The saga of the Marikana massacre continues
- Bucket toilets: The lingering shame of Mangaung
- Sebokeng: The lessons of 1984
- Marikana: A cover-up for all to see
- Marikana: Police torturing their way to intimidation
- War: Cosatu vs Amplats strikers. Battlefield: Rustenburg.
- 25 October 2012: A day of reckoning at Marikana
- Alf Kumalo, Alfie, Bra Alf; an appreciation
- Marikana: After wave of arrests, miners to return to strike
- Friendship forged in the depths of the earth and strengthened by the horror of Marikana
- Marikana murders: The world now believes
- The murder fields of Marikana. The cold murder fields of Marikana.
- Marikana's Small Koppie: 14 dead, 300 metres away from Wonderkop. Why?
- Marikana: The investigation's integrity compromised as Small Koppie's crime scene defaced
- Marikana: Tide is turning against police as miners lay charge of torture
- Far away from murder fields of Marikana, a funeral
- Reporter's notebook: Wonderkop, Marikana, Friday 17th
- Beyond the chaos at Marikana: The search for the real issues
- Humanity on the march: Pity the Martian
- The slippery slope of the appliance militia
- Calligraffiti: eL Seed of an idea
- Love, sex and the fear of a small woman, Zanele Muholi
- TedxMogadishu and its spiritual predecessor, Elman the Electrician
- War photographer extraordinaire, departed
- Of family & the new iPad
- Joseph Kony, the world's Monster-in-Chief
- Journalists and conflict, a reflection
- My friend, Joao Silva, the best war photographer in the world