Please, no cover-up

THE death of inmates in police custody always triggers suspicions of foul play in the eyes of the public until proven otherwise.

THE death of inmates in police custody always triggers suspicions of foul play in the eyes of the public until proven otherwise.

So no amount of official denials will allay current suspicions of police culpability in the death of Soweto taxi boss Mduduzi Gumede this week.

The taximan was found dead in Randburg's Douglasdale police station after being arrested on suspicion of possessing car breaking tools.

His friend, Bongani Mnguni, who was detained with Gumede, has confirmed the Gumede family's suspicions that their relative allegedly died at the hands of those entrusted with protecting the public against criminals.

For its part the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), charged with the task of investigating wrongdoing by the police, expects an arrest soon.

Such candour, and the transparent handling of a sensitive issue that is damaging to the image of the South African Police Service, is encouraging.

Transparency was unheard of during the police's apartheid years as security forces enjoyed a free hand to employ extra-judicial methods at will.

This ought not to happen again in a democracy steeped in human rights culture, which extends to policing. It dictates against police taking the law into their own hands because doing so signifies a lack of respect for the very law they are supposed to uphold.

We urge the ICD to ensure there is no cover-up in its probe so as to restore public confidence in its capacity to bring its own to book.

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