On the streets in Pretoria-the voice is loud and clear, ‘end Police brutality’. From Zimbabwe to Uganda; Kenya to South Sudan through African Great Lake region.
From the West African axis of sixteen English and French speaking countries – Nigeria to Guinea Conakry, the current musical rhythm is to end Police brutality against humanity on the African continent.
The message is not different in Addis-Ababa to the Maghrip in Morocco; in fact, the ongoing song on the continent of Africa is: Africans are tired of Police brutality.
HOW IT BEGAN:
Unfortunately, Police terrorism did not begin today, it started from colonial days; several generations of Africans lived through Police nightmares and savagery.
In colonial days, Police rascality included but not limited to cow, intimidate, harm, and even in many instances, resulted in the death of many Africans.
Rather sad, however, was the continuation of Police brutality by new African leaders after independence; they could have dismantled, or better still, reform the Police, but they left Police lose to further their reign of terror on kingdoms and empires bequeathed to them by former colonial masters.
Even as some of these leaders gave Africans a new hope for tomorrow; released them from shackles of colonial rule, none ever gave attention to transform Police to a modern crime fighting organization within community they serve as partners and friends; but rather continued with colonial-made-Police-Forces handed over to them by erstwhile masters.
In fact, down the road, African police became more brutal than the colonial created forces; soon turned to political tools of repression and suppression by the new African rulers, who went from multi-party system to a single/one party and from limited terms to life president.
For these leaders to hold on to power, opposition they hounded; press they gagged; judiciary lost its independence; civil society destroyed-through harassments, arrests, illegal detentions, lost of lives. Unfortunately, Police were accomplice in all the acts of criminality.
Police over the Decades:
Over the years, Police Africa have worn the tunic of terror, apron of abuse, and scepter of false protector of life-as many lives have been lost to their brutalities, abuses, and the use of lethal force, when not necessary.
Although their claims are, they respond with force, when lives and property are at risk; more so, when officers are in danger.
In fact, this is an excuse, since Police know they are a constituted body of persons empowered by state, with aim to enforce law, ensure safety, health, and possession of citizens, and prevent crime and civil disorder; Police have consistently used these roles as cover for illegal activities and uncivil behaviors.
Police, mostly, if not always have resorted to the use of force legitimized by the state, through Monopoly-of-Violence, which is the use of physical force “amount of effort required by police to compel compliance by an unwilling subject.”
Granted, not all Police officers are bad, yes-not, all officers and men-involved in abuse of power-however or a single act of abuse may give the Force a bad name that may take years to correct or to clean up.
Another area of concern is police victims getting justice or culprits brought to justice; this has always been the case, because Police are not insulated from politics.
Way Out from Police Brutality:
Now that voices are loud and strong against Police brutality, Police matters should be treated like other social, economic, and political issues with urgency. Just imagine the economic, social and political damage-the death of George Floyd caused by the United States, the colossal waste could have been avoided, if the four police officers involved had shown some restraints.
From restraint to what law allows to human face or heart in carrying out duties and responsibilities should not be far from Police officers; after all, they are humans, if the main purpose of their duty is to protect and preserve life; death should rarely occur when Police are out to provide service and help to those in need.
Police need more training to deal and to cope with today’s realities. The world of today is different from yesterday’s world of threat, intimidation, and total control; granted, Police may need some degree of force to carry out their duties, they should always remember, FORCE MAY NOT BE NECESSARY AT ALL TIMES.
More importantly, Police need modern gears and tools to carry out their duties safely.
Police should be insulated from politics, which in most cases are tribal, regional, and ethnic; moreover, erring officers should be brought to justice, just as Police victims get justice without any DELAY.