Police warned to avoid excessive force

2012-11-01 20:46
Riot police (Picture: Sapa)

Riot police (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - Police officers should refrain from using excessive force to control public protests, Parliament's police portfolio committee said in a statement on Thursday.

"Police officers can no longer be allowed to use excessive force when stabilising public unrest incidents. It is against our Constitution and against our human rights culture," said the committee's acting chairperson Annelize van Wyk.

The committee welcomed a finding by the SA Human Rights Commission on the death of Andries Tatane during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg on 13 April 2011.

It concluded that the police used excessive force on Tatane, resulting in his injuries and subsequent death.

Van Wyk said an increase in public protests was a cause for concern.

"These incidents increased from 971 in 2010/11 to 1194 in 2011/12, which resulted mainly from factors such as labour disputes and dissatisfaction with service delivery," she said.

Van Wyk said police should be properly trained to deal with such events.

"The recruitment and training of public order police members is of paramount importance and must receive urgent attention, with focus on constitutional principles."

The reasons for the increase in public unrest should be investigated by relevant government departments and business, she said.

The Democratic Alliance in the Free State said the Tatane incident indicated that a coalition was needed to promote the basic rights of communities.

"The findings are an important first step towards truth and healing. We trust that the court will now see justice done in this matter," said DA provincial leader Patricia Kopane.

There had been 52 service delivery protests in the Free State so far this year, said Kopane.

"These numbers will increase as government continues to fall short of people's need for basic services."

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Read more on:    police  |  andries tatane  |  patricia kopane  |  annelize van wyk  |  protests

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