Johannesburg - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa
on Saturday welcomed a decision to uphold a complaint by the SAPS regarding a DA election advert that contains a photo of a police officer shooting rubber bullets.
"That ad is just plain wrong and I deplore this misleading portrayal of police, as being untrue and unfair," Mthethwa said in a statement.
The image used in the advert was taken from a protest in Bekkersdal where the police had to restore public order, he said.
It was a sad fact of life that when citizens all around the world gathered to demonstrate, those with agendas to undermine democracy often sought to provoke violence to promote instability. And by doing so causing violence to break out, leaving the police to control it, Mthethwa said.
"Crowd control is a challenge for every police service in the world and it would be very easy to pluck a similar image from countries around the world, to give a false image of the reality, which is what the DA did here."‘Volatility during election period’
On Friday night, Independent Communications Authority of SA's complaints and compliance committee decided to uphold the SAPS's complaint.
"The election period tends to bring about a lot of volatility. The police should not be seen as a threat to the community," committee chairperson Wandile Tutani said.
"The offending part of the advert [must] be excised. That is our decision."
The Democratic Alliance's Gauteng premier candidate Mmusi Maimane
, who was present at the ruling, disagreed, stating it was not right that conversation and commentary be restrained.
"It's an injustice and in fact we will be taking this decision under review at the high court."
On Thursday, the committee heard a complaint by the police against the DA's election advert. The SA Police Service contended the advert would incite violence against the police.‘The police are killing our people’
The televised advert shows Maimane standing in front of a mirror talking about the current state of the country.
At one point he states that "the police are killing our people". This is accompanied by a photo of a police officer firing rubber bullets at two unarmed people.
Nick Ferreira, for the DA, told the committee on Thursday that the photograph was authentic and taken in Bekkersdal, Westonaria, in March.
The DA argued the advertisement was a form of political criticism aimed at the current government.
"Look at what those in power have allowed the police service to become," Ferreira said.
"[The current national government] allowed the police service to become brutal and violent. It has allowed for an upsurge in police brutality."Ad banned on SABC
The commission watched additional footage the DA provided, describing them as examples of police brutality.
The police argued that Maimane's statement in the advert would "invite violent acts against the members of the SAPS".
William Mokhari, for the police, said the DA would suffer no harm if it removed the photo and Maimane's line. He said it was important for the committee to consider how people would interpret the DA's message.
Maimane's statement would "inflame members of the public against the police", he told the hearing.
The advert was previously banned by the SABC after it was flighted on 8 and 9 April. The public broadcaster said it incited violence.
The DA laid a complaint with Icasa, and a public hearing was held. The DA and SABC came to an agreement on 16 April after which the broadcaster again aired the advert.