Officials look to combat violent protests

2013-05-14 18:22

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Cape Town - An early-warning system is in place to alert law enforcement officials to potentially violent protests, State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele said on Tuesday.

Delivering his budget vote speech in the National Assembly, Cwele blamed "socio-economic factors and the global economic slowdown" for security risks, which included violent service delivery protests.

While the Constitution guaranteed South Africans' rights to gather, picket, and protest, violence should never form part of such actions.

"Let us be upfront and loudly state that in terms of our laws, it is a crime to incite or participate in act[s of] violence during protests," he said.

Organisers of, and participants in, violent demonstrations would face the consequences.

"We now have [a] plan and are ready [to] deploy the full capacity of the democratic state to identify, prevent, or arrest, and swiftly prosecute those who undermine our bill of rights by engaging in acts of violence," said Cwele.

Security agencies were working together to deal with this.

Intelligence structure had implemented specific measure to provide early warning to law enforcement agencies and relevant departments on planned protests that had the potential to turn violent.

According to Cwele, the factors leading to violent protests would also come under scrutiny.

"The assessments will also focus on the underlying root causes in order to advise on speedy and integrated response[s] to grievances."

There has been a steep increase in service delivery and wage-related protests over the past few years.

The state has come under fire for its responses, specifically after 34 miners were shot dead by police during a wage-related strike at Marikana in the North West on August 16 last year.

Read more on:    police  |  siyabonga cwele  |  protests

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