Two South African policemen suspended over video-recorded assault

CAPE TOWN Fri Mar 7, 2014 8:43am EST

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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Two South African policemen have been suspended after cellphone footage of them assaulting a man suspected of robbery in Cape Town caused public outrage after being posted online, senior officers said on Friday.

South Africa's police force is struggling to overcome a reputation for being heavy-handed and trigger-happy almost two decades after apartheid ended.

An internal investigation is being conducted and criminal proceedings have been brought against the two policemen.

"We condemn the behavior in the strongest possible terms of what we witnessed in the video," Arno Lamoer, the provincial police commissioner, told journalists.

He said the man, an unidentified foreign national who was naked, has not laid any charges against the policemen, who are seen punching and kicking him in the genitals, after answering a call-out on robbery complaint.

The man was released without being charged.

Lamoer said it was unclear if the man was already naked or whether the police officers tore off his clothes while grappling with him on the road as people looked on.

In the footage, taken from an office block, a woman opens a window and shouts "police brutality" before an officer moves towards her.

Last year nine policemen were charged with murdering a Mozambican taxi driver who was handcuffed and dragged behind a police vehicle in full view of bystanders.

(Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard and Louise Ireland)

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