Minister Mthethwa calls for cooperation between police and marchers ahead of COSATU protest
6 Mar 2012
Government respects rights to march but will not tolerate criminality and vandalism.
Government respects the rights of citizens to express themselves through protest marches; however does not tolerate any disorderly and violent protests. To this end, cooperation between the marchers and police is of paramount importance to ensure peaceful marches.
This is Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa’s view ahead of tomorrow’s planned protests organised by COSATU countrywide against e-tolling system in Gauteng and the issue of labour brokers.
The Minister was briefed by the South African Police Service (SAPS) management about their security operational plan and that as part of the pre-planning process, there has been good cooperation between the organisers and police. He called for this continued cooperation amongst the stakeholders to be strengthened; to avoid any unnecessary altercations and tensions in future.
In August last year, the ministry looked into the policy around public order policing because we felt that it was important to determine whether our policy conformed with the Constitutional and legal imperatives. We further needed to examine whether the operational policies and strategies of the SAPS allowed for appropriate planning, interventions and/or responses in respect of public order policing.
The public order policy focuses mainly on the policing of public protests and gatherings. It is also aimed at providing a framework with guidelines for the SAPS in reviewing and aligning its operational strategies and instructions applicable to public order policing.
“We urge everybody who will be partaking in the protests tomorrow to do so in an orderly manner. Police, assisted by their counterparts including defence, local government, event organisers and other stakeholders, will be on hand to ensure that no property is destroyed, no harassment takes place and basically ensure that all things run smoothly,” stated Minister Mthethwa.
“The success of effective response by the SAPS with regard to public order policing is dependent on a strong line of command and control. Within the context of policing public policing, command and control simply means that certain people must know that they have different roles to play,” he added.
He emphasised that to achieve this; police must clearly understand their roles and functions in society. Police action must always be motivated by sound knowledge of police purpose and involve constant application of the law. “Nevertheless, we remain confident that as we move forward, public protests will achieve their goal, that of ensuring that citizens express themselves without provocations between police and citizens.”
The Minister also challenged and urged union leaders to discourage their members from any ill-behaviour particularly as there has been some outcry in the past about alleged criminal behavior or some marchers; by those who seek to take advantage of such gatherings. “Police have a mandate to protect law-abiding citizens and those who find themselves on the wrong side; we shall have no leniency on them. We also urge community members who witness such evil actions to report them to the police. No person has the right to take the law into their own hands under whatever circumstances,” concluded Minister Mthethwa.
Cell: 082 045 4024
Issued by: South African Police Service
6 Mar 2012
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