Police brutality under the microscope

By Nonjabulo Ngema

The basic function of the police in any society is to protect and serve the communities they are embedded in. This should be through thorough investigations of criminal conduct as well as preventative community safety measures. But sometimes the police themselves can be the threat citizens need protection from. Police brutality was up for discussion on November 1, 2022 at the 18th African Investigative Journalism Conference.

Daneel Knoetze, the founder and editor of Viewfinder presented his expose’s “Killing the Files” and “Above the Law”. The “Above the Law” expose included the case of Sergeant Giovanni Gabriel and Adam Isaacs, who were killed in 2020 during a police raid. Issacs was reportedly tortured and succumbed to his injuries in hospital. Witnesses linked Gabriels to the assault and upon investigation, it turned out Isaacs was not Gabriels’ first victim. Knoetze’s investigation was not only about Gabriels it also investigated the entire police force from the Randburg Police Station, with a focus on station commander, Colonel Mark Adonis.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas, undercover investigative journalist and owner of Tiger Eye production addressed police brutality in Nigeria. Anas’ production #MySARSstory, saw 20 storytellers come together to unearth evidence of profiling, harassment, kidnapping and killing by the Nigerian police. Documenting people’s shared experiences led to a lasting conversation and tangible policy action on police brutality in the country.

Knoetze believes that accountability may lie in naming and shaming wrongdoing when it happens. He added: “Tighter regulations on a policy level could assist.”