Barber assaulted by police officers in full view of CCTV

Video shows Juma Igiranieza being beaten up at his workplace

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

10 November 2023

Juma Igiranieza was assaulted by police in Mowbray. They were demanding he tell them the whereabouts of his boss. Photos: Mary-Anne Gontsana

Swollen, bruised, in obvious pain and taking pauses during each sentence, Juma Igiranieza said he thought he would lose his life while he was being assaulted by South African Police Service (SAPS) members during an unexpected raid at his workplace.

Igiranieza, 25, works as a barber at the Perfect Touch Boutique and Salon on Main Road in Mowbray, Cape Town. He is from Burundi. He says he will never forget the night of Tuesday 7 November.

Warning: This article contains an embedded video with violent content

According to Igiranieza, it was just before 7pm when he heard noises and a commotion in the backyard of the salon, where Perfect Touch Car Wash is located.

“I went into one of the rooms in the salon which has a window that faces the car wash in the backyard. When a colleague and I were looking out the window, we saw a lot of police officers. Our colleagues at the car wash were lying flat on the ground and they, including the vehicles, were being searched,” said Igiranieza.

“I will kill you today.”

He said while looking out the window, one of the officers spotted him. When he moved away from the window and back to his chair at the salon, he says three officers stormed into the salon.

One of Igiranieza’s colleagues, a woman who did not want to be named, but was also at the salon during the incident, said that when the officers came in, they told them to take out their phones.

“They scrolled through our phones, gave them back, and then proceeded to search us. There were three of us here at the salon at the time. This includes Juma. After searching us they pushed Juma and took him to the back room. All we could hear from then was screams. They kept him inside there for almost an hour,” said the colleague.

Emotionally describing the incident to GroundUp on Wednesday at his home, Igiranieza, who had a swollen face, cut lip and a gauze pad covering the laceration on top of his right eye, said that one of the officers assaulting him, kept repeating, “I will kill you today.”

“They asked me who was selling drugs and I kept telling them I do not know. They also asked me about my boss’s whereabouts. The officer kept hitting me with his fists and a stick,” he said.

CCTV footage, which we are publishing with this article, shows the assault. The video shows several police officers, one in plain clothes. At least two participate directly in the assault though none of the police appear to be the least bit concerned by it. The plain clothes policeman watches, and at one point apparently endorses the assault. They unleash a barrage of punches on Igiranieza, strike him repeatedly with a wooden device, and smother him with plastic.

Here is an abbreviated version of the video:

This is an abbreviated version of the video. Download the full 11 minute video. Warning: both videos depict violence and most people will find it distressing.

According to the owner of Perfect Touch Boutique and Salon and Perfect Touch Car Wash, who did not want to be named, at the time of the incident on Tuesday, he was out on errands.

He said unexpected raids at businesses in Mowbray, Main Road, had been happening for the past three weeks. He says this was the second time this kind of incident has happened at his establishment.

“My sister, I have no idea what is going on,” he told us. “The first time this happened, it was at the car wash on 16 September, where they beat up one of my employees as well and accused him of selling drugs.”

“They are always accusing us of selling drugs. I am not the only one. But it really feels like we are being targeted,” said the owner, who is Nigerian. “All we are doing is trying to make a living. Do they hate us so much that this is the kind of life that we have to endure?”

The owner said he was now looking at getting legal representation because he wanted to sue the police.

After the assault, Igiranieza managed to phone his girlfriend and brother for help. When they arrived they took him to Groote Schuur Hospital.

According to the report of the medical examination done on Igiranieza, which GroundUp has seen, the clinical findings were: “Patient sustained +/- 1cm laceration of the right eyebrow, lower lip tear, and swelling around the left mandibular region.”

Another person who was assaulted on Tuesday the same night as Igiranieza, was a Nigerian man, Thomas Victor, who works at the Perfect Touch Car Wash.

With his left cheek swollen and right foot swollen and bandaged, Victor said before the officers went to the salon, they started at the car wash.

Thomas Victor has a swollen ankle following his assault. His face is also swollen.

“There were about 20 of them, male and female officers. They came in here while we were busy washing cars, guns drawn. They told us to lie flat on the ground and told us not to look at them. Then they started shouting, searching us and beating us.”

“They said they were looking for drugs. They also noticed that there were security cameras around the yard, which they then destroyed,” said Victor.

One of the other car washers, a South African male who identified himself as Xola, could be seen limping while busy washing one of the cars on Wednesday. He said he was beaten and kicked, and his leg was injured, which was why he was limping.

According to Xola, the officers only stopped beating him once they heard him speak isiXhosa.

The raid on Perfect Touch Boutique and Salon and Perfect Touch Car Wash comes a few months after an unexpected raid was conducted at the African Taste Bar and Restaurant in Mowbray which is situated right next door to Perfect Touch salon.

In this raid, two immigrants – a man and a woman – were arrested and held at the Mowbray police station holding cells for four weeks.

Mowbray police station didn’t respond to our email query. The station’s telephone number went unanswered.

Provincial police spokesperson Wesley Twigg referred GroundUp’s questions to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

“The docket was transferred to IPID therefore your enquiry will be best addressed by their media department,” said Twigg.

We sent questions to IPID but received no response.

The witnesses we spoke to allege that the police intentionally broke these CCTV cameras when they raided businesses in Mowbray on Tuesday. Photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana