The following is an extract from an article written by Times Sunday editor, Mbongeni Mbingo, and published in his newspaper today (11 January 2009).
We are living in fear
Two things could have happened to him while ‘being interviewed’ by the police; one is that he would have been forced to reveal certain information, such as who his sources are, and what drives him to write the manner that he does. He would also have been asked to reveal why he writes the way that he does, if he is aware he is rubbing certain people the wrong way, and then forced to apologise for all his writings. If he would have refused to apologise, Mfomfo Nkhambule would have been ‘forced’ to do so. This means he would have been tortured, into submission. And we do know what the police can get to when torturing suspects — some of them, if not mostly, even die.
But that is never a matter for concern for the country, people were born to die anyway, and certain when you become a suspect, you are as good as dead. So many of them walk into a police station, supposedly innocent until proven guilty, but the overzealousness of the police, and their torturing methods always ensure that people leave the stations in one bad state—emotionally and otherwise.
Now, you have to admit therefore that Mfomfo Nkhambule needs to thank his God he only got a talking to (and that is if that is all that happened in there!).
Remember Mathousand Ngubane? He was an innocent man, who got a talking to, to have the police ascertain the truth. What happened to him? He was killed in that very police station, and that was the end of it. The people responsible are still employed. Oh, they were transferred, a serious punishment in the police force if you kill a person.
And by the look of things, it does not take much for them to decide they will kill you, they just do it. Some innocent suspect was shot from the back, and died. Nothing happened.
Another famous case is that of a Ngozo chap who was a notorious criminal who gave the cops a hard time with his robberies. So they tracked him down, found him — and shot him. It was at point blank range. The prime minister of that time said it was a reasonable distance — 35cm away from him. He died, and it was no big thing in the country. Those police officers responsible for this are still employed, and the police force wasn’t even forced to defend this. Nothing happened. Everything was normal.
So, I am very happy for Mfomfo. In fact, I am thrilled on his behalf. I am personally very terrified of the police, and what they can get up to, and believe that with the Suppression of Terrorism Act, they are becoming an even bigger threat to human rights. In fact, they are becoming more and more law unto themselves. God only knows who they are answerable to.
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