Police used minimum force during Jeppestown raid - minister

2015-04-22 20:10
(News24)

(News24)

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Johannesburg - The police did not use excessive force when they burst into the Jeppestown men's hostel late on Tuesday night searching for weapons, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Kebby Maphatsoe said on Wednesday.

"When you go on a raid and you know the situation there, you will use the minimum force. That is what they used, and remember those are policemen and those people [in the hostels] were armed," he said.

He was speaking to News24 shortly after addressing foreign nationals at a camp site in Primrose, Germiston, east of Johannesburg. They had been there since xenophobic violence broke out in the area last Thursday, forcing them to flee their homes.

"So you can't go there as if you are Jesus, when you are dealing with criminals. We saw how they murdered our people, so you can't have mercy on them."

The raid, which began at 22:00 on Tuesday and ended at 04:00 was carried out by members of the SA police service. SANDF members were outside the premises securing the area. 

In a video taken by an EWN reporter, police officers are seen walking down the hostel's corridors, kicking doors down and calling for the men to come out of the rooms with their hands above their heads. Most of the men are wearing boxers.

"It was not harsh... It is the correct time to attack, when they're sleeping so that we must not get them ready."

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula announced on Tuesday afternoon that the SANDF would be deployed in any region that SAPS believed to be volatile. This included parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

On Wednesday, Maphatsoe said the soldiers would assist the police for as long as they were needed on the ground. Once the situation had returned to normal, the soldiers would be removed.

'They took everthing'

Mozambican national Avelino Penetro Mthombeni is one of those who sought refuge at the camp last Thursday. He came to South Africa two months ago looking for a job.

When he returned to the shack in Makause informal settlement where he had lived for the past two months, he found it had been ransacked.

"They have stolen my things in the shack. I found one other pair of pants and this shirt that I'm wearing. They took everything inside that shack, and the clothes I had bought for my two year old. She's turning two in June. If I had money, I'd be gone."

He said he was tired of struggling to make a living and was ready to go home.

"I came here to work, but I stayed for a long time without a job. I only started working last week, doing some welding, then the job ended.

"I can go home [to Mozambique] now, maybe I will come back when it has settled down."

'The soldiers can't watch everyone'

The defence minister's announcement on Tuesday that soldiers would be deployed to assist police did not make him feel any better.

"Even if the soldiers are around, the crime will still happen. The soldiers cannot watch everyone all at the same time. It takes minutes to kill a person, even seconds."

Maphatsoe told those at the camp that young South Africans needed to be taught about the contribution other African countries made to the country during the apartheid era.

He called on military veterans to educate the youth in the areas where they lived. 

"No amount of anger can be justified for our brothers and sisters to be treated like this. Those people accommodated us, they were bombarded by the apartheid regime.

"Civilians died, but they never said, even for a single day, 'Go away! You are killing us!'

"They said': 'We know that you are fighting a government that is illegitimate, your freedom is our freedom'. So we need to explain that to these young people the role that these countries played for them to enjoy this freedom today."

Read more on:    police  |  kebby maphatsoe  |  johannebsurg  |  xenophobia

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