Zuma blasts ‘trigger-happy’ cops, Mthethwa says they’re world class

2014-02-08 11:54

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President Jacob Zuma has condemned the response of “trigger-happy” police to recent violent service delivery protests.

Zuma said that protesters also needed to refrain from violence, the Saturday Star reported.

“No, I am not happy. I don’t think anyone can be with trigger-happy police. It’s not good at all,” Zuma was quoted as saying.

His comments comes amid Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s claim that South Africa’s public order policing units are among the best in the world

The police had 4 000 members in these units, which dealt with riots and faced the recent spate of public service delivery protests in the country, he said yesterday at a conference in Durban for 1 500 police station commanders.

The units employed a combination of techniques from different countries, as well as those learnt in South Africa, to quell protests.

“But the level of dangerous weapons that police have to face is extreme,” he said, pointing out that the same spears used at protests had been used to defeat the British army at Isandlwana.

Read: 1 protester shot dead every 4 days

Zuma said: “The police need to be trained, especially given the fact that South Africa is prone to protest. In a place where protest is a daily occurrence, police need to be ready.”

Protesters who “carry pangas and burn tyres” also shared the blame for the violence, and South Africa had yet to address the “culture and the legacy of apartheid violence”, he said.

One such example was the violence on August 16 2012 in Marikana, North West, where 34 people, mostly striking miners, were shot dead when the police fired on a group gathered at a hill near the mine.

“The fact of the matter is that you had miners on strike carrying every other weapon, actually ready to kill. In fact, they had killed 10 people before the police shot at people,” Zuma said.

Although he did not want to pre-empt the findings of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry, which is investigating the deaths, Zuma said there were indications that the police were not the only party at fault.

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