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Analysis of Independent Police Investigative Directorate investigators’ experiences of the application of Section 28(1)(f) of the IPID mandate, torture and assault, by police officials in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

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The South African Police Service officers have informally incorporated the operational methods of torture and assault in the execution of their duties in the reformed police service of South Africa. This historical conversation of police torture and assault has generated a debate over what constitutes torture and what has caused the persistence of this blunder in the police service. This study went a step further by exploring accountability mechanisms that are in place to reduce incidences of torture and assault. The investigation entailed an analysis of the effectiveness of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) strategies and challenges encountered by investigating officers in addressing section 28(1)(f) of the IPID mandate. The analyses of the experiences of the selected IPID investigating officers strove to determine the nature of police torture and assault in this country’s democratic dispensation and to determine the stumbling blocks that exist in the SAPS and IPID organisations for the reduction of police torture and assault in KwaZulu-Natal. This study adopted a qualitative interpretive phenomenological approach. In-depth interviews were conducted with ten (n=10) IPID investigating officers whose investigations were guided by section 28(1)(f) of the IPID mandate in the KwaZulu-Natal province. The participants were selected by means of the purposive sampling technique. Using a thematic analysis approach, the study revealed that assault in KwaZulu-Natal province includes slapping, kicking and punching a suspect whereas torture constituted strangulation, suffocation, electrocution and tubing and occurred predominantly when the police were searching for information about dagga, firearms and undetected suspects. The influx of cases of torture and assault is the outcome of several problems, namely public’s lack of understanding of the police procedures, public provoke the police, excessively volatile raids, inadequate police training as it does not address the challenges that the police experience in their occupational setting, and management pressure on the police to meet projected targets for firearm or drug retrieval. More specifically, the study also found that, in addressing the issue of police torture and assault, IPID investigating officers encountered various challenges such as a lack of evidence from complainants, lack of police cooperation, lack of complainants’ cooperation in the investigation, and lack of resources. The findings thus suggest that investigation strategies in terms of police brutality are ineffective due to investigative challenges. This in turn renders the disciplinary and criminal conviction strategies ineffective in ensuring police accountability. As a result, torture and assault by police officers are perpetuated.


Master of Social Science in Criminology. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, 2017.


Theses - Criminology and Forensic Studies.