Police to clamp down on violent protests

2011-09-16 12:40

Police commissioner General Bheki Cele has given an assurance that any future violent protests on South African streets will be met with “robust policing”.

Addressing a meeting of the SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) in Cape Town, Cele pleaded with media to help educate the public that violence during protests was criminal.

“My special plea to you (the media) is please take a stand and tell South Africa that those who wreak havoc on our streets during public protests will, henceforth, be treated like criminals and not protesters,” Cele said.

“For my part I can assure you that any future violent protests on the streets of our country will be met with what the UK Prime Minister David Cameron famously referred to as ‘robust policing’.”

Cele did not elaborate on the meaning of the word “robust”.

He, however, referred to his envy of “the outpouring of support” that the British media directed at members of the metropolitan police during the recent riots in London.

“There I saw media practitioners who were firmly and unapologetically on the side of law and order,” Cele said.

“I saw media practitioners who did not hesitate to tell protesters that their right to protest does not equal the right to victimise others and commit criminal acts with impunity.”

The commissioner said he had been at the ANC’s headquarters, Luthuli House, in downtown Joburg two weeks ago when rioters caused havoc on the streets during the ANC Youth League’s disciplinary hearings.

“I commend the police on how they handled it there in spite of the provocation they were subjected to,” he said.

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