Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
28 Jul 2021
12:10 pm

Gender equality body slams ‘dehumanising’ treatment of looters by police

Citizen Reporter

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has called for a probe into the inhumane treatment of some suspected looters.

Police arrest a suspected looter at Mayfield Square in Daveyton on 13 July 2021 Police were extremely over extended and arrested a large number of looters, but they simply couldn't cope with the sheer numbers. Picture: Neil McCartney

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) has called for a probe into the “inhumane treatment” of some looters during operations conducted by the police to recover suspected stolen items.


This comes after the recent wave of rampant looting and violent unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, that has since left more than 300 people dead to date.

The violence, which has been widely seen as an expression of anger and frustration by people living in poverty, was also worsened by the impact of Covid-19.

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As a result of the looting, members of the South African Police Service (Saps) and  the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) have been conducting raids to recover items like basic groceries, alcohol and appliances.

Despite criticism from some South Africans that the raids were infringing on poor citizens’ constitutional rights to dignity, SANDF spokesperson Colonel Ronald Maseko indicated that the lack of pushback from the community showed that the “SANDF is a defence force for the people”.

Inhumane treatment

CGE chairperson Tamara Mathebula said while the commission condemned stealing, it could not ignore the inhumane treatment of people.

“That, being said, as a human rights institution, the CGE cannot put a blind eye to various videos circulating in the social media platforms wherein men, women, the elderly and children were treated in an inhumane manner for stealing.

“The commission does not condone any form of stealing; however, degrading people and dehumanising them does not also make it less of a crime. There are many ways of punishing people without having their rights infringed as purported in the videos that we have seen,” the CGE chairperson said in a statement.

Mathebula said the commission was appalled the videos of circulating, which saw some looters being forced to swim in what “looked like water/alcohol spillage”.

“No matter how angry those who made those women to do such an act allegedly in Mamelodi Mall, it cannot be that women were objectified or demeaned in such a manner. Those women in the videos are mothers, sisters and aunts to many. Imagine the humiliation they will suffer for having been subjected to such acts,” she added.

The CGE chairperson further said it was for this reason that the commission called for a probe into these incidents “in order to have a punitive measure against those who have been found to have erred in the process”.

“The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in Chapter 2 guarantees everyone rights. And those rights extend to the looters too. The law must be applied but not in the manner in which people had their dignity and bodily integrity removed,” Mathebula concluded.

Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe