The South African police has been known as a tough force for many years and they were used under the old Apartheid government to terrorize the black population. The new government has put a black man in charge but changes are slow. There are plenty of badly trained, racist and underpaid cops working in a harsh environment.
South Africa has some of the highest crime rates in the world, leading in rapes and homicides. Flying Squad is an elite rapid response unit in Johannesburg that covers major calls in the city. The photographer followed units on and off for twelve hour shifts under a 2 year-old period getting a glimpse into a secret and dangerous world.


Many of the policemen come from simple backgrounds and usually have been recruited directly from the army. Often white, they feel that their entitlements are disappearing and they feel total power while on duty. Usually they are never brought to trial for things done on duty.

In October 2000, a police dog training video was shown on national TV and it shocked the nation and the world. Racist cops from Johannesburg used illegal Mozambican immigrants as bait to train their vicious dogs. The horrifying images will hopefully lead to changes that make the force more professional and sensitive while working.

Per-Anders Pettersson

Follow on
See full archive