Consensus needed on public order, inquiry hears

2014-11-14 13:35
(File: AP)

(File: AP)

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Pretoria - South Africa needs to develop a universally accepted notion of what constitutes appropriate forms of public protest, the Farlam Commission of Inquiry heard on its final day of public hearings on Friday.

Such an understanding would be instrumental in ensuring there was never a repeat of the events at Lonmin's platinum mining operations in Marikana, near Rustenburg in the North West, in August 2012, Ishmael Semenya SC, for the SA Police Service (SAPS), told the commission in Pretoria.

"The place to start is to accept a common understanding of what constitutes acceptable public order discourse for South Africans."

Those who felt the need to hold protests needed to do so within the confines of the law and the Constitution.

"We must agree that the South Africa we do not want is one where public dissent... is expressed by groups bearing weapons and bent on conflict and mayhem," Semenya said.

"We don't deserve a South Africa that looks on with complicit acquiescence at public displays of criminal conduct... Where civil society does not express outrage when law and order is disregarded..."

Semenya called on all role players - the police, unions, strikers, and Lonmin - to take responsibility for their actions on the day of the shooting and in the events leading up to it.

The SAPS was the only institution tasked with maintaining law and order, and many police officers were killed each year in the line of duty "so that you and I can have our law and order intact", he said.

The commission is investigating the deaths of 44 people during strike-related violence at Marikana in August 2012.

Thirty-four people, mostly striking mineworkers, were shot dead in a clash with police, more than 70 were wounded, and 250 were arrested on 16 August 2012. Police were apparently trying to disarm and disperse them.

In the preceding week, 10 people, including two policemen and two Lonmin security guards, were killed.

Commission spokesperson Phuti Setati previously said the commission's public hearings would wrap up on Friday, so the commissioners could focus on writing their final report, which is to be submitted to President Jacob Zuma next year.

Read more on:    lonmin  |  police  |  pretoria  |  marikana inquiry

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