A disturbing video of police officers allegedly abusing two KwaZulu-Natal men who they caught having sex in a car has gone viral.
The video clip, which appears to have been filmed by the officers themselves, shows the terrified men cowering in the vehicle with their pants down.
The person holding the camera focuses on the men’s exposed genitals while verbally abusing them with homophobic hate speech.
“Who’s doing who?” asks the officer, calling his colleague to, “Come see the shame – the stabane [faggots] are having sex!”
He continues to humiliate the couple, ordering them to not put their pants on. He questions them again: “Who’s the man between the two of you? Who’s the man, who’s the woman?”
When one of the individuals in the car claims, “We were not doing anything,” the officer replies: “Stop lying to me. Don’t make a fool of me.”
He goes on to further rebuke them: “Why are you having sex, because you’re boys? What you’re doing is disgusting!” Another person says, “Let’s arrest them”.
One of the half-naked men meekly responds with: “We want to apologise.” The individual holding the camera, reacts by telling him to “piss off” and get dressed, after which the video ends.
Mambaonline has received unsubstantiated claims that the men were beaten after being arrested. Activists have tracked down at least one of the victims, who’s been described as being “devastated” by the leak of the video.
The clip outed him to his family and he has been mocked in his workplace. He has also expressed doubts about speaking out or being further identified.
Questions are being asked about why officers treated the men in such a degrading fashion and how the video, which may have been filmed some time ago, has made its way into the public realm.
“The men may have broken the law when it comes to public indecency but they deserved to be treated with dignity,” commented Lerato Phalakatshela, Hate Crime Manager at OUT and spokesperson for the Love Not Hate campaign.
“It’s degrading to be filmed and exposed like that. Their human rights were violated. There is clearly homophobia involved in the way the men were treated and what was said to them.”
He argued that, “The police would probably not have made such a big deal out of it if it was an opposite-sex couple.”
Phalakatshela said the men should be given support after their ordeal. “They are probably traumatised and need to get some kind of counselling.”
He added that the police’s actions come as no surprise and pointed out that a 2016 Love Not Hate report found that 88% of LGBTI people said they had not reported hate crime incidents to the police.
“The police always seem to be looking at ways to humiliate or make fun of LGBTI people. This is one of the reasons why LGBTI people don’t report hate crimes, because they fear being victimised by the police,” Phalakatshela said.
Mambaonline understands that the video has been reported to the Department of Justice and the Ministry of Police. Activists are waiting for a response from the authorities.