I call this the season of image-tarnishing news about South Africa. My beloved country has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons in the last 6 months, and the seemingly unstoppable flow of negative news that includes Marikana, Anne Booysen and Oscar Pretorius is drowning out all the other positive news such as the recently well-received budget speech by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.
Now about the latest round of negative news about my beloved country.
We have seen what is now called the Daveyton police brutality video, being shown on the world’s news channel screens in the last week. The video shows a hapless taxi driver, a Mozambican national by the name Mido Macia, hand-cuffed to the back of a police van and dragged away in full view of the disapproving public, this in a brazen show of brute force by the police officers involved. Apparently Macia died in custody after this horrific incident, and all this happened in one of Gauteng’s townships called Daveyton.
To the best of my knowledge, the Daveyton police brutality case was brought to the attention of the South African public and the globe by a citizen journalist’s poorly shot mobile video.
I wish the video had English subtitles of the disapproval by members of the Daveyton community who witnessed the incident, whose voices were heard threatening the police that the incident is being recorded on a mobile phone. Clearly, ordinary people understand the power of the small screen.
The police brutality video also caught President Jacob Zuma’s attention. He expressed his shock at the displayed conduct of the police officers involved in the incident. South Africa’s first citizen does not always comment publicly on incidents like these, let alone when they come from a citizen journalist video the contents of which had not been validated.
The mobile video above has become a key source of evidence that may prove that police personnel involved in the arrest of Macia were complicit in his ultimate death. I’ll be watching the development of this case with interest to see if there will be conviction of the 8 arrested police officers.
I believe that the Daveyton Police brutality case has strengthened the role of citizen journalism in South Africa, and there is no doubt that mobile technology will greatly enhance the effective execution of this role. Do you agree?