Nathi Mthethwa pooh-poohs union concerns over Mothutlung suspensions

2014-01-26 06:01

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has defended the decision to suspend 14 police officers for the alleged murder of four protesters in Mothutlung, North West, after the union representing the officers criticised the decision.

SA Police Union (Sapu) president Mpho Kwinika yesterday said all the police officers involved in the alleged murders had not given their side of the story before being suspended.

Kwinika also dismissed Mthethwa’s claims that the police officers had used the SSG 12-gauge ammunition – pellet bullets that were discontinued in 2006 – when they tried to disperse protesters.

“Police officers don’t manufacture bullets. They are issued with bullets they must use. The ones they used, the SSG 12-gauge, were issued and Mthethwa cannot say the ammunition was not allowed. He cannot attribute that to the members,” said Kwinika.

Kwinika said the police’s command and control unit should be held responsible for the use of discontinued ammunition because the unit had issued it to the officers.

Sapu said the officers had all been admitted to a Pretoria hospital, where they were receiving counselling for the trauma experienced during the violent protests.

“Mthethwa should have established a committee and received a preliminary report on the investigation and get our members’ side of the story. But today he [Mthethwa] doesn’t have one piece of statement from any of the officers other than commanders who cooked the report. They have suspended our members without following due process,” said Kwinika.

But Mthethwa hit back, saying the law had been followed when the internal probe into the deaths of the protesters had been conducted..

Mthethwa accused Sapu of “playing politics” and said the union was aware of which processes should be followed when officers were suspended.

On Friday, Mthethwa announced that the internal probe had been conducted independently of another investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

“An investigation was done. What we were communicating with the public is the investigation. We had the findings and people were served with notices of suspension.

“We never mentioned anybody’s name. We said we started a processes ...” said Mthethwa.

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