Cops breach rubber bullets order - DA

Johannesburg - Gauteng police are still using rubber bullets on protesting crowds despite a standing order put into place two years ago prohibiting their use, the DA said on Tuesday.

Police had fired rubber bullets on protesters in Bekkersdal, Diepsloot and at the Union Buildings in Pretoria in the past six months, DA MPL John Moodey said.

"This, despite the confirmation by Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko that the standing order banning the use of rubber bullets is still in effect," he said.

"With the increase in service delivery protests, residents in Gauteng face the same fate as Andries Tatane and others who have died or sustained serious injuries as a result of rubber bullets."

Tatane died after being shot with rubber bullets during a service delivery protest in Ficksburg, in the Free State, on 13 April 2011.

On 28 March, the Ficksburg Regional Court acquitted seven policemen accused of causing Tatane's death.

On Tuesday, the SA Police Service claimed it had the authority to use rubber bullets.

Police spokesperson Solomon Makgale said an instruction by former police commissioner Bheki Cele in 2011 made provision for the police to use rubber bullets if called for by the situation they were confronted with.

"Later on, in March 2012 and June 2012, the revised instruction specified that only [police] that were part of the public order policing unit and trained in the use of rubber bullets, [were] allowed to use rubber bullets under the instruction of the operational commander at the scene," said Makgale.

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