Police watchdog is investigating torture charges against CCTV cops

Juma Igiranieza was assaulted on 7 November by police officers conducting a raid at his workplace

By Mary-Anne Gontsana

1 December 2023

Juma Igiranieza was assaulted by police officers during an unexpected raid at his workplace on 7 November. The incident was caught on CCTV. He plans to sue the state for damages. Archive photo: Mary-Anne Gontsana

Lawyers representing a Mowbray barber who was assaulted by police earlier this month have issued a notice to the national and Western Cape police commissioners of his intention to claim for damages.

This comes as the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) confirmed to GroundUp that the officers found to be involved in the assault could face charges of attempted murder, torture and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH).

Juma Igiranieza was assaulted on 7 November by police officers during an unexpected raid at his workplace, Perfect Touch Boutique and Salon in Mowbray, Cape Town.

GroundUp published CCTV footage on 10 November showing several police officers, one in plain clothes, carrying out the assault. In the footage, at least two officers participate directly in the assault and none of the police appear worried by it. They unleash a barrage of punches on Igiranieza, strike him repeatedly with a wooden device, and smother him with plastic.

The officers were allegedly looking for Igiranieza’s boss whom they accused of selling drugs. Igiranieza was taken to Groote Schuur Hospital for treatment following the assault.

On Wednesday Russel Manuel, an associate attorney at Lionel Murray Schwormstedt & Louw said his client, Igiranieza, is claiming for damages under the Institution of Legal Proceedings against Certain Organs of State Act 40 of 2002. Notices were sent to the national police commissioner and the provincial commissioner, he said.

“Upon service of the notices of our client’s intention to institute proceedings, they have 60 days to accept or reject (repudiate) the claim, or they can do nothing. On the expiration of the 60 days, we are instructed to issue summons [for civil litigation],” said Manuel.

IPID spokesperson Robbie Raburabu confirmed that in addition to assaulting Igiranieza, investigators were also looking into allegations that the officers assaulted another person outside the salon and a car washer nearby.

“The incident was reported to IPID on 9 November 2023 and IPID took over the investigation. The charges being investigated are attempted murder, torture, assault GBH. All victims are foreign nationals.”

Asked whether the police involved in the assault and who appear on the CCTV video have been identified, and what the consequences they are likely to face, Raburabu said: “The investigation will definitely identify all members involved. Once the investigation is concluded, recommendations will be referred to both the National Prosecuting Authority for decision and SAPS for disciplinary action.”

The owner of the Perfect Touch Boutique and Salon, who asked not to be named, said he and Igiranieza are working closely with Manuel. He said four law enforcement officers had come to his second business, behind the salon, on 15 November.

“Luckily when they came that day, I was at the salon. So, when I heard they were at the car wash, I went to them. I asked them how I could help them, and they told me the same story about people selling drugs in my establishment,” he said.

“I told them if they know who these people are then they must arrest them, otherwise they need to leave. They did not search. After that day, no one has come again,” said the owner.