South African policeman arrested for murder amid virus lockdown

By: AFP      Published: 02:01 PM, 31 Mar, 2020
South African policeman arrested for murder amid virus lockdown

South African police watchdog on Monday said it was investigating one of their own for allegedly killing a man who defied coronavirus lockdown regulations.

Police on patrol in Vooslorus, a working class suburb east of Johannesburg, are said to have followed a man from a bar to a house, having broken the no-liquor rules. "It is alleged that the deceased was followed to his veranda ... where he was fatally shot," said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate in a statement.   

Three children aged between five and 11 years were also wounded during the attack which occurred on Sunday. The policeman and a private security guard have been arrested for murder. The arrest came as the defence minister on Monday condemned alleged heavy-handedness by security forces deployed to enforce the coronavirus lockdown.

Videos on social media showed security forces making civilians squat or roll on the ground for allegedly violating the restrictions.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, in an interview with local Newzroom Afrika television channel, said she was aware of two videos "which have circulated where clearly there (is) some abuse".

"I'm saying I condemn that. We will not allow that to continue," she said. "The instruction which I have given is that if it's proven that a particular soldier has done it, that soldier must be withdrawn from the place of deployment and must go back to base".

The army has deployed some 3,000 troops to help police the 21-day lockdown ordered last week by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of the deadly. Human Rights Watch's director for Southern Africa Dewa Mavhinga called for an independent probe into the alleged military brutality. 

Shenilla Mohamed, executive director of Amnesty International in South Africa said "while it is urgent and important to ensure that people adhere to the lockdown, simply resorting to force will hardly achieve anything".

"Hurting or causing injury by using force will only place more strain on the already overburdened medical services."

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