Mowbray police assault: no names and no consequences

Victim has left work out of fear

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Photo of Bheki Cele

Minister of Police Bheki Cele said in November: “We will try to move fast,” when asked about consequences for police officers who assaulted a hairdresser in Mowbray. But to date neither SAPS nor IPID have published the names of the police officers involved in the assault or what disciplinary action they have faced. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

  • On 7 November police officers assaulted Juma Igiranieza at his work in Mowbray, Cape Town. The incident was caught on CCTV.
  • A few weeks later the police minister, in response to a question on the incident, stated: “We will try to move fast.”
  • Nearly three months later, the names of the officers involved have not been published and it’s unclear if any action has been taken against them.

The barber who was assaulted by police officers in Mowbray, Cape Town, last year has left his place of work because he fears being assaulted again. And yet, nearly three months later the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), remain mum on the outcome and identities of the officers who carried out the assault.

Barber, Juma Igiranieza, was assaulted on 7 November by SAPS members during a raid at his workplace, Perfect Touch Boutique and Salon.

GroundUp published CCTV footage on 10 November showing several police, one in plain clothes, carrying out the assault. In the footage, at least two officers participate directly in the assault and none of the other police appear concerned by it. The officers 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.

The officers are members of the SAPS Special Provincial Task Unit called Operation Restoration (RETO). The charges being investigated against them are attempted murder, torture and assault.

Asked whether the officers had been identified, whether they had been charged and if they had faced any consequences, IPID spokesperson, Robbie Raburabu referred GroundUp to SAPS, saying: “The information you are looking for would not be provided by IPID but rather SAPS. Issues of discipline that are only dealt with by the employer.”

But when we went to SAPS, spokesperson FC Van Wyk sent us back to IPID, saying “Kindly be informed that the circumstances surrounding the incident cited in your enquiry are now the subject of an investigation by IPID. You are advised to refer your enquiry to the spokesperson of the mentioned department for a response.”

At a meeting of the South African National Editors Forum a few weeks after the incident Minister of Police Bheki Cele stated: “I am told that IPID is working on this particular case and many others and will make recommendations. We will try to move fast.”

“Complete travesty”

On Monday, the Western Cape Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety slammed IPID’s report for the second quarter of the 2023/24 financial year. The report shows that in the Western Cape, from July to September 2023, 196 cases were registered with IPID for investigation. Of the 1,276 cases countrywide, the Western Cape had the second highest behind Gauteng.

The 196 cases included 146 assault cases.

Reagan Allen, Western Cape police minister, said: “The high number of cases is deeply worrying, and quite frankly a disgrace. It suggests that there is an unacceptable level of ill-discipline within the ranks of SAPS that requires urgent attention. It’s a complete travesty that the very service that should be protecting all of us, while upholding the law, have allegedly made themselves guilty of committing crime.”

If anyone has credible information identifying the officers involved in the assault, please let us know via email: Your confidentiality is assured.

Video of the assault

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.

Update on 2024-01-26 11:55

IPID informed GroundUp after this article was published: "The investigation in this matter is still ongoing. The only challenge for the investigators is the identification of the alleged suspects, but we are hopeful this will be resolved soon."

TOPICS:  Policing

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Dear Editor

This is totally unacceptable behaviour by people who are supposed to uphold the law and protect our people. Have we turned into a police state where the police is above the law?

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