Activists doorstop police to demand answers for brutal barbershop assault

Police and IPID silent on the investigation into the assault of Juma Igiranieza on 7 November

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Reverend Alan Storey of the Central Methodist Church and activist Zackie Achmat met the station commander at the Mowbray Police station on Wednesday to demand answers after the brutal assault of barber Juma Igiranieza. Photos: Qaqamba Falithenjwa

Western Cape police and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) investigators have been tight-lipped on the investigation into the brutal assault of a barber in Mowbray.

Juma Igiranieza, from Burundi, had told GroundUp that he thought he would die on 7 November while he was being assaulted by SAPS members during an unexpected raid at his workplace.

Igiranieza, 25, works as a barber on Main Road in Mowbray. Describing the incident from his home last week, Igiranieza still had a swollen face, cut lip and a gauze pad covering the laceration on top of his right eye.

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

GroundUp published CCTV footage on 10 November, showing several police officers, one in plain clothes. 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.

On 15 November, Reverend Alan Storey of the Central Methodist Mission and activist Zackie Achmat doorstopped the station commander at the Mowbray Police Station. The station commander said he could not comment on the matter and referred all questions to IPID.

GroundUp contacted IPID several times, but to no avail.

Outside the police station, Storey said, “When the police are lawless like this, they lose the right to ask other people to be lawful. When they use violence, it makes it difficult for us to address the violence in society. They’ve lost credibility.”

Storey said South Africans should stand against xenophobia and not condone it. “We recognise that this is a person of foreign nationality, and we need to stand against xenophobia and when the police are not held accountable,” he said.

Achmat said, “We understand the burden that police face in dealing with rape, robbery, murder. But if we can’t trust the police then we can’t trust anyone to keep us safe.”

Achmat said hundreds of people die in police custody every year. “Never once have we heard the minister of police say sorry for all these people who die in custody.”

Storey and Achmat said they would not rest until the perpetrators were brought to book.

The Western Cape Police media office had not responded to GroundUp’s questions by the time of publication on Wednesday.

Western Cape police and IPID have not responded to questions about their investigations into the assault by police officers.

TOPICS:  Crime Police brutality

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