The Human Rights Commission (HRC) says it is shocked, saddened and deeply upset by the comments made by some members of the police on Saturday when they arrested Muslims who violated the restriction regulations by staying in a mosque in Masibekela near Nelspruit in Mpumalanga.
“The HRC strongly condemns the insensitive remarks about the Islamic religion, especially at this time when Muslims in our country and around the world begin the holy month of fasting as part of their religion,” a statement said.
A video taken during the group’s arrest was widely shared on social media. It can be heard in one of the police say that the group of Muslims thinks “(The Prophet) Muhammad is bigger than the president.” People were also cursed.
On Sunday, a day after the incident, Bheki Cele, the Minister of Police, apologized on behalf of the members concerned. Cele promised that the guilty would be found and punished.
The HRC says: “The words used have not only violated the religious rights of those arrested. This is completely unacceptable. Even though the persons in the mosque were arrested, they do not deserve the disrespect of their religion. “
The commission says it has insisted on several occasions that state law enforcement agencies, including the police, must respect the Constitution and human rights while enforcing the containment measures.
“The commission appreciates that most law enforcement officers do their best to maintain law and order in very difficult circumstances,” he says.
“But it is worrying that there are some bad apples among them that are hurting the hard work and the good name of the majority of women and men who work for these agencies.”
The HRC further requests that the public comply with the regulations regarding the state of restriction and that instructions from the authorities are respected.