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“What about the unseen accidents?”
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“What about the unseen accidents?”

Denise JuvaneThe brutal incident where Mozambican Mido Macia was dragged behind a police van raises questions about the position of the South African police. Is it acceptable for our ‘protectors’ to make others fear them, asks Denise Juvane, 20, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Mozambique, now living in England.

For some time now, what has been playing in my mind quite a lot is the handling of citizens by the police in South Africa, or shall I say, lack of. The irony in this whole situation is quite interesting.

We often see the police as reliable individuals there to maintain our safety, but in South Africa it seems as though it is the police causing the most problems. Al Jazeera came up with an interesting headline concerning the police, they have come to question ‘Who polices the police?’ Indeed, that is something that should be considered.

After bringing this topic for discussion in a class with colleagues, one person highlighted that various countries experience such brutality but it isn’t portrayed by the media the same way as this event was. Since South Africa is known for its apartheid past, it seems as though every step of violence it encounters is maximised and internationally broadcasted. On the other hand, another colleague argued that maybe the problem resides with the police of South Africa – perhaps they are not given incentives to perform their job to the best of their capabilities, or perhaps they are not well trained and educated to be able to handle such situations.

Nevertheless, whatever the case and whatever the answer, since when has it become acceptable for individuals who are supposed to be our ‘protectors’ to abuse their power and make others fear them? When did it become acceptable for police officers to mistreat people and carry out their duties as if they were dealing with animals?

The death of 27 year old Mido Macia may only be one of the many incidents that occur in that country simply because there is video evidence which was then broadcast for the world to see. What about the unseen accidents? Are they disregarded?

South African Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega talked about the Macia case and the police brutality in South Africa by commenting: “It was one incident too many. And when you see it at any given time, you cringe. The South African Police Service employs 200,000 police who are at work on a daily basis, who make millions of arrests…. I would say for any given service as large as ours, you are bound to get such incidences. But when you get them, it’s what you do with them.” (Aljazeera.com)

The nine policemen who have been charged with the murder of Macia have not been granted bail and are due to appear again in court next month, but what change will be done when it comes to all the other non-broadcasted incidents and mistreatment of individuals in custody?

It seems to be a difficult and sensitive subject to grasp, but it is essential that the root of the problem is found so that accidents such as the unfortunate one with Mozambican Macia does not repeat itself.

Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/changereality/6509496569/”>Werner Vermaak</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>

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About me:
I am a second year International Relations Student at the University of Surrey in England. I am very much interested in international development and the desire to help tackle poverty and inequality.

Currently, I am a Vice President at the Politics Society of my university as well as a News Writer to the local University Newspaper ‘The Stag’.
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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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