In Indonesia, thieves often receive little sympathy and beatings of suspected criminals by angry mobs are disturbingly common. But footage of a senior police officer in Bangka Belitung physically assaulting two women and a child accused of stealing from a minimarket has quickly drawn an outpouring of outrage from across the country since it went viral yesterday, including the anger of the National Police chief.
The footage, taken just yesterday at about 7pm, shows Bangka Belitung Police Superintendent M Yusuf standing in front of two women who are sitting on the floor of a minimarket. Yusuf can be seen kicking one of the women in the face as she begs for mercy and later throws a sandal at her. He also hits a child standing to the side.
According to the police, Yusuf is the owner of the minimarket shown in the video. He was at home when one of his employees called him to say there were seven people at the store who he suspected were trying to steal goods.
“When [Yusuf], the owner of the store, got a call at home from the shopkeeper that there were seven people who had entered the store pretending to shop in order to steal, finally three were caught, two mothers and one 14-years-old child,” Bangka Belitung Police spokesperson Abdul Mun’im wrote in press statement picked up by CNN Indonesia.
Yusuf then questioned the three suspects about who they were, where they lived and the whereabouts of the other four who had managed to escape. But the three said they were nobodies, did not have any homes and did not know about the other four people.
The footage captures Yusuf’s reaction to their lack of answers, with the police press release saying that the police officer became “provoked” and “emotional” upon hearing their response.
The Bangka Belitung police spokesperson said the two women and the child in the video had suffered some bruising from Yusuf’s assault.
Mun’im also told the media that the women and child had been caught stealing baby formula, instant noodles and a headscarf from the store and said that the “victim” had suffered IDR 600,000 (USD 42) in losses from the theft. One of the women is still being investigated for theft after allegedly being caught with the stolen goods and could potentially still face charges.
After a witness uploaded the video it immediately exploded on social media and soon got back to authorities. Bangka Belitung Police Chief Syaiful Zachri immediately issued an order dismissing Yusuf from his post today and launched an investigation into his actions.
National Police Chief Tito Karnavian was also reportedly furious upon seeing the footage for himself
“In regards to the video (of the beating), the National Police chief is extremely angry and will dismiss Superintendent (Yusuf) today as well,” National Police spokesperson M. Iqbal said today as quoted by Detik, adding that Yusuf’s actions did not reflect the police’s current mission of promoting professionalism and public trust.