Bheki Cele responds to police assault

Minister says video of police beating Juma Igiranieza looks like grievous bodily harm

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

20 November 2023

Minister of Police Bheki Cele addresses journalists on 8 August about the taxi strike in Cape Town. Photo: Ella Morrison

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating the assault of a barber and will make recommendations, according to Minister of Police Bheki Cele.

Cele was speaking at the South African National Editors’ Forum’s (SANEF) council meeting on Saturday. He was asked by GroundUp’s editor about his lack of response to the video of the assault and what measures are being taken to reduce this kind of behaviour by police.

Cele responded that he would make sure the case of the police assault on Juma Igiranieza is fast tracked.

Twenty-five year old Igiranieza, originally from Burundi, was assaulted on 7 November by police officers during an unexpected raid at his workplace in Mowbray, Cape Town. The incident was caught on CCTV.

GroundUp published the CCTV footage on 10 November, which Cele said he had seen and to him it looked like assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

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.

“Police is one of the highly regulated bodies in South Africa,” the minister said, pointing out that IPID oversees the behaviour of police.

“There are bad police and there are good police. I have made a call that for those bad guys, go hard and for the good guys go good. That is human nature. If I am doing bad, hit me, but if I am doing good, I would love to hear you say thank you,” said Cele.

“I am told that IPID is working on this particular case and many others and will make recommendations. We will try to move fast,” said Cele.

Speaking to GroundUp over the phone on Monday, Igiranieza said that even though he was afraid, he went back to work on Sunday (19 November).

“I still feel some pain in my body and I am still taking pain medication. But I needed to come back to work because I need the money. I do still feel scared that those police will come again,” said Igiranieza.

He and other people allegedly assaulted by police on 7 November have obtained the services of an attorney.

GroundUp first reached out to IPID for comment on 9 November and received no response. We again asked IPID for a response on Monday (20 November). Spokesperson Robbie Raburabu responded: “Good morning, I will remind them [IPID’s provincial structure] and revert back to you.”