1 protester shot dead every 4 days

2014-02-06 18:03

The SA Police Service (SAPS) this year, on average, allegedly shot and killed one protester every four days in South Africa.

There have already been nine confirmed cases of fatal shootings where the police were involved this year.

According to data from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) up to 2011, the number of complaints of brutality by the police have soared since 2007. In 2007, fewer than 16 cases were reported. Two years later, 59 complaints were laid against police officers.

Most of the complaints were filed against members of the unit for public order policing, which is in charge of crowd control during protests.

Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said the latest figures were not yet available, and Ipid could therefore not comment on trends regarding police brutality.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the trends were going in only one direction, and especially Marikana, where 34 miners were killed in 2012, will have a major impact on the Ipid figures.

“The police have a mentality that protesters are the enemy against whom they must wage war. And it looks as if police top management don’t not know how to resolve the problem.”

Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the trade union Amcu, says South Africa is becoming a fascist state, with the police using force to suppress protests.

However, Annelize van Wyk, chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, differs.

“You have to be careful if you say the police are acting more violently and are shooting and killing more people. What are you comparing it with? The number of protests – and they are violent protests – are increasing every year.”

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said last week there were more than 13 000 protests last year in which police were involved and 1 882 of them were violent protests.

Van Wyk said there were also all sorts of contributing factors that led to violence.

“It’s issues like the non-delivery of services, or council members who aren’t doing their job. Often the police then unfairly become the protesters’ target.”

Statistics from the Auditor-General (AG) support Van Wyk’s views on service-delivery issues that need attention.

In a submission delivered by the AG before the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) yesterday, the AG said that up to 93% of national government departments did not comply with financial regulations and control measures.

This contributed to government entities wasting as much as R30.3 billion last year.

R2.28 billion of this is unauthorised expenditure by 32 government departments. Provincial departments of health and education were the worst culprits.

Van Wyk said individual members of the police should also be considered. “Do we ever ask ourselves if these people’s lives are not also threatened? They also have loved ones.”

She said many police officers work more than the normal working hours and under great tension.

“Of course you don’t want to see people being killed. And people have the right to protest. But it must be peaceful.”

- Beeld

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