I tried for a long time to get to observe one of the Human Rights and Policing training courses intended to transform South African Police oﬃcers and instil in them a respect for human rights. First, I missed several opportunities due to the temporary collapse of the programme in Gauteng province. Then there were several cancellations and postponements. Finally, one day in November 2002, I waited in a sparsely furnished classroom of the SAPS training centre in Anderson Street in downtown Johannesburg. There, over the next three days, the Human Rights training course was going to take place. Slowly the small classroom ﬁlled with police oﬃcers. Each chose a desk
and waited for the trainer to arrive, and ﬁnally Captain Chauke appeared. Dynamic, speaking charismatically, and moving between the tables, he skipped any introduction and attacked the students with a question right away: ‘Since when do black people in South Africa have human rights? … You!’. He pointed his ﬁnger at a young black man. ‘Er, since 1994, since the ﬁrst elections’, the man sputtered. ‘Ahh, since the ﬁrst elections, hmmm?’ Captain Chauke responded, clearly not satisﬁed. ‘You, what do you think?’, and he pointed at a black woman sitting right behind me. She timidly responded, ‘Since Mandela was released from prison? … or … No! I know! Since the Bill of Rights?’. ‘No, no, you are all wrong’, Captain Chauke exclaimed with some self-
satisfaction. And then, meaningfully looking round the circle of puzzled policemen and policewomen, he gave the ‘right’ answer:
Black people in South Africa always, all along, had human rights; it was just that the past government did not recognise those rights. Human rights are inalienable. Everybody has human rights, always, even before he or she is born.