African Union's crisis of legitimacy on Police Brutality

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[African Union\Police Brutality]
Al Jazeera: "Why would the AU condemn Floyd's death in Minneapolis, but wholly disregard Miggels' suspicious broad daylight, under the guise of implementing COVID-19 lockdown rules?"
Photo: YouTube

Author Tafi Mhaka asks why the African Union is not speaking out against brutal police violence and repression in Africa.

On May 29, just four days after George Floyd's death in police custody, African Union Commission's Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat issued a scorching statement condemning the Black man's "murder … at the hands of law enforcement officers" and reaffirmed "the African Union's rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America."

A few weeks earlier in April, following the news of the Chinese government's mistreatment of Africans living in the city of Guangzhou, Mahamat summoned China's ambassador to the African Union, Liu Yuxi, to express the body's extreme displeasure with anti-African racism in the country.

Taken on their own, despite admittedly not making much difference on the ground, the African Union's public condemnation of racial discrimination and police brutality targeting Black people in China and the US could be seen as a reaffirmation of the continental body's stated commitment to promoting universal human rights.

The Union's actions - or rather, its careless inaction and passivity - in Africa, however, tells a completely different story.

On March 27, the first day of South Africa's COVID-19 lockdown, two police officers assaulted 56-year-old Petrus Miggels in Cape Town. He died shortly after that beating. His only crime was allegedly breaking the country's strict lockdown rules by purchasing alcoholic drinks from a nearby shop.

Following Miggels' sad and mystifying demise, the African Union not only failed to launch an investigation, it did not even issue a simple statement of condemnation.

This disturbing act of police brutality, it seemed, was not worthy of the AU's attention.

Why would the AU condemn Floyd's death in Minneapolis, but wholly disregard Miggels' suspicious death on the Cape Flats? Why would it express "extreme concern" about the maltreatment of Africans in China, but fail to caution South Africa for killing one of its own citizens, in broad daylight, under the guise of implementing COVID-19 lockdown rules?

Police brutality and abuse of power in South Africa, after all, is as systematic, widespread and deadly as it is in the US.

South Africans reportedly lodged 42,365 criminal complaints against the police between April 2012 and March 2019. Amongst others, the reports included allegations of rape, torture, assault and murder.

Still, despite the severity, consistency and enormity of the complaints, South Africa has avoided being investigated or publicly rebuked by the African Union to this day.

Read the rest of this Al Jazeera story here:

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