SAPS needs firm leadership - ISS

The Institute for Security Studies said it would be embarrassing for SAPS to reverse the rank structure.

Police closely monitor protests in Marikana in the North West on 14 August 2012. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on Thursday said it would be embarrassing for police to try and reverse the rank structure adding that even if it did, it would not have any impact on police brutality.

The institute's Johan Burger made the comments at a seminar on police brutality, arguing the root of the problem lies in command and control.

Over the last few years, South Africa has seen a number of high-profile cases involving police.

Earlier this year, Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia was tied behind a police van and dragged through the streets of Daveyton.

The incident was captured on camera.

In August 2012, 34 striking miners were gunned down at the hands of police at Lonmin's Marikana mine outside Rustenburg.

Burger said the thin blue line could easily be transformed into a thick blue wall, used by police officers to protect each other.

He said firmer discipline was needed, regular inspection, more focus on the detectives and competent leaders.

"It would be embarrassing for the police to now again change their range. It's going to be confusing and make the police a laughing stock of the world and not solve the problem."

Gauteng Police Commissioner Mzwandile Petros also spoke about command and control, saying police work was about passion.

"You must love to do this job. You must love democracy."

The seminar also heard about a growing international trend where citizens are organising themselves and using video cameras to keep police officers accountable.

Earlier, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) called on officers to think about the implications of using force and make sure their actions complied with international codes of conduct.

In 2012, there were 720 people were killed by police and the IPID received almost 5,000 reports.