Wednesday, 14 July 2021

The Siyanda Mngaza case has deep roots in our historical experience.


                                                                  FREE SIYANDA 

Siyanda Mngaza; Still fighting for justice. 

Author:Daniella Maison BA (Hons) MA 

In 1944, mother of three, Lena Baker began working for a man named Ernest Knight. Knight was an older white man who had broken his leg but owning a gristmill he needed a helper. It wasn’t long before the abuse began, and Knight sexually assaulted Lena multiple times, keeping her imprisoned for days at a time in "near slavery." One night an argument between the two ensued, during which Knight made one of his many threats to Baker, this time to beat her with an iron bar. As she tried desperately to escape, they struggled over his pistol, and she shot and killed him. She immediately reported the incident and said she had acted in self-defense. The police arrested her.  

A few months later when it went to court, the trial lasted just four hours. Four hours was all it took to find Lena guilty. Four hours for the all-white, all-male jury to reject Lena’s plea of self-defense and convict her of capital murder on the very first day of the trial, knowing that the charge carried an automatic death sentence. No witnesses were called in her defense.  

Lena was executed by electrocution on March 5, 1945, the only woman in Georgia to ever sit on the electric chair. Lena is buried in an unmarked grave behind Mount Vernon Baptist Church, where she had once sung in the choir. 

In 2005, the Parole Board granted Baker a full and unconditional pardon.  

They will tell you Lena’s story was many years ago, that since then society has made serious progress, the world is different, the world is ‘woke’. As we commemorate a year since the public execution of George Floyd, there has been some acknowledgment of the physical violence that the diaspora has faced for generations at the hands of the police and the justice system. 

Yet long before this ensanguined episode, ‘excessive force’ and ‘police brutality’ were terms that sent shivers down the spine of the collective. 21 years ago, the diaspora squirmed at the footage of Rodney King’s mauling, writhed at the image of his hands raised protectively over his head as he cowered beneath the thrashing batons and brutal shoe soles of the authorities. We held our heads in our hands as we saw ourselves, our fathers, brothers, and our sons lying powerlessly on the pavement, flagellated like a scene from Mississippi Burning. 

The very image of a group of white Here to Serve men beating a single unarmed black man was too much of a painful reminder of savagery and lynching within our genetic memory, an emblematic twinge, the symbolism of which thumped us, moved us, changed us. It never stopped.  

I use the word ‘us’. Some reading this will tell me these are things that are happening in America, ‘where they have guns’, but as Diaspora we are part of the same system, victim to and survivors of the same agenda. So, the British police may not carry guns (George Floyd was not lynched by a gun, but by an agenda) and the deaths of Sarah Reed, Roger Sylvester, Joy Gardener, Mohamud Mohammed Hassan, (and the endless list of those who lay slain, imprisoned, brutalized) tell us they are just as focused; they tow the same line; they might lynch us without guns if the opportunity is there.

Recently, Police constable Benjamin Monk was found guilty of the manslaughter of ex-professional footballer Dalian Atkinson. He was jailed for 8-years in a landmark case. The last time a police officer was successfully prosecuted in the UK concerning the death of somebody in custody was in 1969. 

Violence and lynching aren’t the only method of police brutality the Black and brown community are up against. Excessive force, baton beatings, chokeholds, use of firearms, unlawful takedowns, wrist locks, ground-pinning, unwarranted use of tasers (and knees), wrongful search and seizure, denial of medical care, false arrest and wrongful imprisonment are just some of the weapons brandished for demise. 

Siyanda Mngaza’s story was brought to my attention by Lee Jasper, who has been steadfastly garnering awareness for Siyanda’s story, one so grossly low-down and underhand, I had to join the cause in telling it loudly. I was hit with all the same emotions as I was when I sat down to write about Sarah Reed’s plight several years back. But for both being Black female victims of the system, Siyanda’s story is different though hearing its nefarious details impacted me to the core, sharply, empirically.   


Siyanda was full a young woman of radiance. A promising future ahead of her, she was an HR officer, and  had already worked a position for the South Wales Fire Service.  4ft 10 inches in stature, tall in spirit she had overcome adversity in her 20-years of life, including disability,  and her family and friends describe her as kind, energetic, caring young woman who had stayed positive, with a zest for life and an unforgettable smile.  

It was a sunny May bank holiday weekend when Siyanda made the journey to the Brecon Beacons with her boyfriend later in the day as she was invited by his family who was already going with their friends. She agreed in an effort to get to know them. She had never met the majority of the group before and she was the only Black person among them. As the evening progressed, the group gathered around a campfire, laughing, and drinking until an argument took place between Siyanda’s boyfriend and his parents. 

Taking her cue, Siyanda made her way back to their tent to prepare the bed, and eventually her boyfriend followed. Intoxicated, he fell into a deep sleep on the bed she had so lovingly prepared before she returned back out  to continue to socialize with the group who she had felt she was getting along well with, sharing details of her disability openly.  Then, the mood changed, and the groups racist intentions began to seep. 

Siyanda was now without a single ally, and it did not take long for the verbal abuse to skyrocket, as they squared up to her, repeatedly calling her a “jungle c**n” and “black b***h.” What had seemed like a picturesque holiday setting just hours before, had quickly became a minefield, a pitch-black campsite in the dead of night, in the middle of nowhere.  

Siyanda was pushed and punched by a white woman, whose tall male henchmen stood at her side, goading.  Siyanda did what we all hope a lone and outnumbered woman would do in a violent situation; she tried to defended herself however was unable to.   Self-defence is afterall, our right according to common law and the Criminal Law Act of 1967. 

She stepped back, telling them to leave her alone. She had recently had surgery and was more than aware of her physical limitations as she stood scared and unsteady; fearing for her life surrounded by a mob, eyes blood red with loathing and alcohol to fuel their revulsion. Her attacker fell on to her, punching, kicking, and stomping her as she fought to get away. 

Bloodied, bruised and alone in the dark, Siyanda tried to find help and she was met by four Dyfed Powys Police officers.  Now, here’s the rub. At this point, she was handcuffed and taken away in a police car. She explained to the police that she had been the victim of a racially motivated attack. Despite the distressing series of pictures that were taken during her time in custody evidencing her injuries as a victim of assault, the police charged her with gross bodily harm. 

Consider for a moment the message to Siyanda.   

Not every case of despotism ends with the physical cessation of life. Siyanda is alive and breathing confined to a jail cell and make no mistake about it, this is police brutality. 

Black people are 40 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police officers than white. The Met Police are four times more likely to use force with black people than white people. Black people make up 3% of the population but are subject to 20% of taser use. Even COVID-19 became a thwacking tool for implicit racial bias with ethnic minorities 160% more likely to be fined over lockdown breaches than white counterparts. We remain over policed and under protected. 

A serving officer, who spoke to the BBC recently said: "As far as they're concerned black people are more aggressive. You should calm them down but instead they are keen to put hands on first because it's flight or fight. Particularly with black men, if a black person is upset, saying 'it's hurting', they say 'it looks fine to me'." PC Benjamin Monk claimed he killed Dalian because he was ‘terrified’ the footballer (who had played for 10 clubs in 7 countries and was tased for 33 seconds and kicked twice in the head by the policeman) could ‘kill him.’

None of Siyanda’s attackers were arrested, charged, or taken into custody for questioning. Dyfed Powys Police admitted in court that they didn't investigate a racial motive and ignored that it was an act of self-defense in a racially motivated physical assault. 

Dyfed Powys Police, where only 1.3% of its officers are BAME compared to 2% of the population. Of the 12 Black and ethnic minority police officers in a place that has a resident population of 500,000 people; only two are women (both at constable level). The work to eradicate injustice will not be attained if we the public remain concerned only with the most visually disturbing forms of police violence unravelled on social media and viral WhatsApp posts.

“If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly by the criminal justice system than if you’re white.”  Those were the words of Theresa May as she stood outside Downing Street in her first speech as Prime Minister. A better Britain she did not build as there lies an even more complex layer in Siyanda’s story: The justice system also discriminates against ethnic minority people. Its a sad state of affairs that only 5.9% judges in the U.K look like the 23% of Black and ethnic minority people prosecuted. 

On the 21st of February 2020, an all-white jury sitting at Swansea Crown Court found Siyanda guilty, and sentenced her to four years and six months in prison. 

There we have the colonialist echo. The criminal justice system is still shaped by a fear of black people and a taste for violent punishment born on the plantation and manifested in divisive and punitive government measures and practices, as minorities are still subject to profiling and unequal treatment within our country’s justice structures. How can justice exist in the midst of such injustice?   

Decades after Lena, some 5000 miles away, and yet an eerily similar tale of injustice… Siyanda. 

Siyanda’s case represents a decades-long struggle against racist policing, exposing deep levels of corruption. There exists a distinct and disturbing cohesion between the colonies and racist policing. From the U.K to France, Belgium, Portugal, and the U.S.A, all draw their roots from centuries of entrenched racism; manifesting in today’s repressive techniques of harassment, profiling, capture, shooting, strangulation, all partake in a long and fanatical history of subjugation and imprisonment with the assistance of the justice system.  

In the U.S.A, National Registry of Exonerations in the US shows that 63% of exonerated women were convicted in cases in which no crime in fact occurred. Today, African American’s are four times more likely to be imprisoned than white Americans. In the U.K, young black people are nine times more likely to be jailed. Conveniently, statistics on exoneration are not kept in the U.K, so I cannot tell you how many of sit wrongfully behind bars.  

The broader goal of our efforts must be to widen the lens and narrow the focus of police violence to the forebears who birthed the system and its ongoing repercussions. Our young people are lured into the mythical school of thought that colonialism was necessary and gentle with the sickly doses of Lusotropicalism predominant in school curriculumsAll too often we learn the hard way, what we are really up against. 

I’m sure there is somewhere a suited suburban Daily Mail reader who would keenly assure me that we have simply ‘moved on’, police brutality is a rarity, and we have the benefit of being able deny the very existence of white privilege because we are part of a modernised, progressive, peaceable society.  And all the while Siyanda sits in a cell. 

We cannot call ourselves progressive if all we can muster is a hashtag.  

We are at a pivotal moment in our nation’s history, and we must not let the opportunity to act pass us by. The tragic killings of Ibrahima Barrie, Gaye Camara, Stephan Neisius, Atatiana Jefferson, and the countless other names we should know of lives lost to law enforcement brutality are testament to our urgent need for overdue and transformational change. We need a political reckoning, a Truth and Reconciliation. And we must reckon with our broken system of policing and construct effective institutions that respect and protect our diverse communities.

One of our bright young sits behind bars in the years she was destined to thrive, live, and continue her positive contribution to society.

We’re in the midst of a movement that says Black Lives Matter, and if that’s truly the case, then it means that Siyanda’s life, liberty, and legacy must matter too. 

Please, sign the petition today:  

Free Siyanda. 

Author Daniella Maison’s article series ‘Black women & Hip Hop’ went viral in 2009 and gained her critical acclaim in the USA; followed by a viral contribution on the death of Sarah Reed. Maison notably exposed R.Kelly in 2008. Her devotion to and fearlessness in raising social cause awareness has made an impact in the diaspora. Maison has most notably and bravely spoken out on issues of feminism, police brutality, FGM and honour killings, appearing in Emel Magazine, Hard knocks radio, Peace TV, New Nation, Black Thought Radio and the BBC. The N Word is set for publication next month, featuring a foreword by Benjamin Zephaniah. This year she was shortlisted for a Black Excellence award for her contribution to changing the world through words.


Tuesday, 6 July 2021

African and Caribbean communities of Lambeth have the lowest level of trust and confidence in the Met of any borough in London.



Lambeth Youth Safety Forum Key Police Statistics Briefing and Agenda.

This is the briefing paper that highlights the key issues, perceptions and areas of systemic racism and disproportionate use of police powered by Lambeth Police Service written by me in my capacity as Chair of the LYSF and presented at the above meeting. 

It highlights some shocking statistics, all verified by the Met and the Mayors Office that all should be aware of. 

                                                                                                 30th June 2021. 



This paper provides a summary picture outlining the publicly available data in relation to Lambeth Police Service and Lambeth’s Black and/or BAME communities.  For context some additional national and regional figures are also included. 




The percentage of UK Black people aged 16 and over who had confidence in their local police, by ethnicity from 2017 to 2020 dropped from 76% to 64% [1]


The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has recently launched a Mayors Action Plan [2] focused on tackling disproportionality of the Metropolitan use of police powers, improving trust and confidence among London African and Caribbean descent communities and consulting on improving police accountability. To help inform these discussions he has also launched a Mayors Action Plan Dashboard[3] that provides access to key data in relation to trust, confidence and disproportionality.  

The Dashboard allows to view Met performance in relation to disproportionality and public perception in Lambeth in some detail

Only 46% of Black London residents think the police are doing a good [4] job. 

A study conducted by University College London published in the Guardian Newspaper in 2020 reported that all the stop and searches conducted by Metropolitan, City of London and British Transport Police officerson young Black males meant they were 19 times [5] more likely to be stopped and searched in London than white males.

Race complaints [6] against Metropolitan Police Officers have risen by 90% since 2018.  Of 7300 complaintsmade over the last nine years only 59 (0-8%) were upheld.


Between April 2019 and March 2020 in London there were 18 stop and searches for every 1,000 White people, compared with 71 for every 1,000 Black people. 


In 2019-20 the Met used restraint [7] 18 times on Black people for every 1,000 of the pop. For white people, restraint was used five times per 1,000 of the population

Knife Crime in London. 

Met figures show [8] that in 2008 African and Caribbean victims of knife crime stood at 1,866 and rose to 2, 991by 2018.

White victims over the same period were 3,948 in 2208 rising to 5,281  in 2018.


Across all public perception indicators [9] for Lambeth, people’s opinions about Lambeth Police have worsened across all indicators. 

Lambeth – Stop & Search volumes from May 2019 [10] – May 2020 inclusive – 17,933, and Southwark – S&S volume May 2019 – May 2020 inclusive – 18,434

Positive outcome runs[11] at 24% meaning that 76% S&S result in NFA

In Lambeth that amounts to 25,000 people per year. 

64.6% of those stopped and searched in Lambeth in the 12 months to April 2021 were Black, compared to 27.4% who were White and 5.1% Asian. 

In Lambeth Black Individuals were 5 times more likely to be stopped and searched compared to White Individuals, with Asian individuals 1.7 times more likely to be stopped and searched. 


64.6% of those stopped and searched in Lambeth in the 12 months to April 2021 were Black, compared to 27.4% who were White and 5.1% Asian. 



S&S increased massively during lockdown. 

Percentage of a positive outcomes[12] in relation to S&S in May 2021 was 5.1% the vast majority for drugs offences

Lambeth residents express [13] the lowest level of public trust and confidence in London that Lambeth Police officers will treat them fairly

White people are S&S [14] at a rate 22.5 per 1000 in Lambeth and Black people at a rate of 96 per 1000. 

Lambeth (5th) and Southwark (3rd) are both in the top 5 London[15] boroughs for stop and search. 

The consequences of being disproportionately policed is increased entry into the criminal justice system. 


The average prison sentence for Black people in 2009[16] was 20 months. For Whites it was 15 months.[17]


By 2018 for Black people it had risen to 28 months and for Whites it was 18 months.[18]

Lambeth Police Accountability Structures.

There are no public Black community public police accountability forums re policing in Lambeth. 

·      The LIAG’s minutes are not publicly available, neither are its terms of reference, the method of joining the group, nor its full membership (other than Chair and Vice Chair) are not publicly known.  

·      Safer Lambeth Partnership Executive minutes are confidential and there is no transparency re genuine and authentic community accountability. 

 L  Lambeth Safer Neighbourhood Board. The Mayor’s Office has accepted that SNB’s across London are not working and is wanting to consult re improved arrangements. 

·      Lambeth Stop and Search Monitoring Group no longer meets and is entirely dysfunctional. 






The Mayors Action Plan is timely. We need to enter genuine consultation with Lambeth’s black communities to coproduce a new police accountability framework for Lambeth.  

[1] Confidence in local policing. Crime, justice, and the law. Ethnicity Facts and Figures. UK Government Published 12th May 2021. 

[2] Action Plan- Transparency, accountability and Trust in Policing. Mayors Office for Crime and Policing (MOPAC) published 13th November 2020

[3] Mayors Action Plan Dashboard (MOPAC) Updated Q4 2021

[4] Mayors Office for Policing and Crime Public Voice Dashboard June 2021

[5] Young black males in London ’19 times more likely to be stopped and searched’ Guardian Newspaper published 3rd December 2020 

[6] Race Complaints Against Met Up 90% in two years. London Evening Standard. Published 4th June 2021 

[7] Met Police ‘four times more likely’ to use force on black people BBC News. Published 30th July 2020

[8] Ethnicity of people proceeded against and victim of knife crime Calendar Years 2008-20198 (up to 30-11-2018) Metropolitan Police Service. Freedom of Information request. Published by 7th January 2019 

[9] Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime Public Voice Dashboard June 2021

[10] Search Volumes for Reporting Period: May 2019 to end of May 2021 Published by May 2021

[11] Ibid (10) S&S R12 2021 Summary tab 

[12] Ibid (10) Outcomes Summary tab

[13] Ibid (1) Satisfaction Demographics

[14] Ibid ((6) Searches Demographics 

[15]  The London Boroughs where you’re most likely to be stopped and searched by police. Published by MyLondon.News 16th May 2021

[16] Average length of custodial sentences. Published by Ministry of Justice 8th October 2020

[17] Ibid (11)

[18] Ibid (11)

Monday, 5 July 2021

Death In Police Custody: Mouayed Bashir’s Inquest Date Announced.

Death In Police Custody: Mouayed Bashir’s Inquest Date Announced. 


After an inordinate and inexplicable delay, the Inquest of 29-year-old Mouayed Bashir, who died after being restrained by Gwent Police at his home in Newport, Wales, on the 17th February 2021, will now take place at 9 am on the 13th July 2021 at Coroners Court Gwent, Civic Centre, Newport, NP20 4UR. 


His parents had called 999 after Mouayed began to behave erratically. Instead of an ambulance the Police arrived at their home. What they then witnessed was a needlessly aggressive and unnecessary degree of violence and hostility from Gwent police officers in restraining Mouayed. 


Gwent Coroner Ms Caroline Saunders has taken some four and half months to open an Inquest, and that delay has added to the pain and anguish felt by the Bashir family. According to figures published on the Ministry of Justice website, Newport Gwent is one of the worst-performing Corners districts in the UK, taking an average of 40 weeks to process inquests compared to the national average of 27 weeks. 

                            Mohannd Bashir, brother of Mouayed statement on behalf of the family. 

In addition, the IOPC investigation continues to move at a snail's pace. Some four and half months on and the family are still none the wiser about the number of Gwent police officers interviewed or the number of officers wearing body cams. The Bashir family have still not been granted access to any police bodycam videos that show Mouayed's arrest.


It is in the hands of the IOPC as to whether families get access to CCTV or police bodycam footage. Here they set out their guidance.


The following is an extract from our Family Liaison Policy which provides guidance on the process of how to share footage appropriately with a family using the family liaison route following the death of a person. We should be clear, however, that the decision on whether to share footage lies with the relevant investigation team following advice from the legal team and consultation with the Coroner or other external parties where appropriate.


Guidance regarding showing of CCTV to families


It may be appropriate to allow the families of a person who has died to view CCTV footage that records evidence of the events prior to that person's death or, depending on the likely distress to be caused, the death itself.


Before showing such footage, checks should be made with Legal Services to ensure the viewing will not prejudice our investigation in any way whatsoever. Checks should also be made with the police force or other agencies concerned, for example, the CPS and/or the Coroner, in case they wish to make any representations regarding any adverse implications they foresee that are likely to arise from showing the footage.


What is clear from the guidance is that whether or not a family gets access to film footage is a decision the IOPC can make of its own volition, notwithstanding its requirement to consult. There are occasions where the IOPC has granted access to families to these videos, but the decision varies around the country ranging from routine denial to occasional agreement.


The fact that the Police must be consulted along with others and that the IOPC can withhold a video on public interest grounds, say to avoid inflaming public tensions, or on some spurious legal grounds, is testimony to the extent which local politics, not law, can determine their decisions.


We would argue that allowing the family to see the final moments of their loved one's life in confidence should be a matter of rights, not political or legal interpretation. There should be an automatic presumption that families are allowed access to this information unless there is some compelling reason not to do so. Where that is the case, the families should have a right to see the decision communicated in writing, including the consultative response from the Police, the Crown Prosecution Services and the Coroners office.


Many are rightly suspicious that families are routinely denied access to videos for political rather than substantive legal reasons. Contrast this with the United States, where Ma'Khia Bryant, a black teenager, was shot and killed by an officer in Ohio; the video footage was released publicly in a few hours. Ohio's body-camera policy, signed by Republican governor John Kasich in 2019, makes the footage part of the public record.


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It appears to us that the innovation of police officers wearing body cameras was sold to us as being of value to the public in providing public reassurance relating to controversial policing encounters if the public and, more importantly, the victims of deaths in custody then don't have access to the footage in a timely manner.


Mouayed's case, like that of Mohammad Hassan, requires a new level of transparency from the IOPC to meet the #BlackLivesMatter, post-George Floyd test demanded by the public.


Justice must be done and, more importantly, must be seen to be done.