Use of rubber bullets must stop, police told

2012-01-14 14:00

Johannesburg - Police officers are no longer allowed to use rubber bullets or shotguns on protesters, Beeld reported on Saturday.

The order was made at the end of December by Lieutenant General Elias Mawela from the police's reaction unit to all police officers in the country.

This follows widespread use of force by police, over the past two years, mainly in protests over service delivery.

The use of force and rubber bullets was highlighted by the death of Andries Tatane last April during a protest in Ficksburg.

According to the communiqu by Malewa there were a large number of crowd control incidents where a large number of rubber bullets were used over the last few months.

"Some of these incidents led to negative publicity in the media which led to questions about the use of rubber bullets in such situations," he reportedly wrote.

Rubber bullets are, according to regulation 262, to be used as a last resort.

In spite of the regulation and that supplies of rubber bullets were recently decreased, there were still serious injuries," he said.

"The use of rubber bullets and bird-shot must therefore summarily be halted."

Negotiation remains the first option, then pyrotechnics (blanks), water cannons or tear gas can be used.

The goal must be to defuse conflict with minimum force.

  • Thandi - 2012-01-14 14:10

    I agree with dispensing with rubber bullets - don't stuff around, use the real thing. Get out the real bullets.

      George - 2012-01-14 18:59

      Make double barrels and you can dispence more

      David - 2012-01-15 03:43

      Why are rubber bullets used? Only when a protest turns violent. When a crowd turns violent the time for speaking nicely and negotiation is over. If you want to act like a criminal expect to be treated as one. Use live ammunition and shoot the b@#tards!

      christo.stone - 2012-01-16 07:25

      This is not don't just shoot someone because you don't agree... Rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas should be used to disperse violent crowds and protests. There's not other method.

      procold2 - 2012-01-16 08:44

      why dont we just warn them and chase them away with a feather duster? this is going to bite the police, wait unil a few are petrol bombed and killed because the crimminaks can now come in close enough for hand thrown projectiles

  • acsteyn - 2012-01-14 14:11

    I think this is fundamentally wrong. If that specific policeman made an error he should be held accountable. It is not right to put the rest of the Police Forse ar risk and disarm them all. What happened to the police have the right to defend themselves? This is just plain stupid. Another observation is that there is no mention as to how they are going to replace the police's ability to defend themselves or disperse crouds that could be life threatning?

      Morakane - 2012-01-14 14:20

      acsteyn I agree wholeheartedly, but the police were now just abusing the use of rubber bullets. Some stories in the media reported that police would open fire on peacefull demonstraters to disperse the crowd. Surely there are otherways to disperse a crowd. Defend yourself from rioting hooligans yes, but disperse non violent protesters in another way.

      PyroSA - 2012-01-15 16:13

      @Morakane - that's the problem, abusing the tools. They should add acreditation levels in SA. If you go for training on rubber bullets, tazers or specific items, you're allowed to use them. In case of abuse, you have to re-do the training - potentially at your own cost?

      tacod - 2012-01-16 09:09

      @pyrosa In most instances, the police will not use any force if the protests can behave themselves. If they start throwing stones, bottles and other objects at police, the police have the right to use these weapons to defend themselves and to protect the community that are not part of the protest. What most people forget, on television they usually only see the police view as the media will not dare go to the other side in fear of their own lives and equipment. If one person in the protest march throw a stone at the police, others will follow. throwing stones and burning tires is not peaceful and should therefore be dealt with harshly.

  • drummond.doig1 - 2012-01-14 14:20

    Full metal jacket ammo then

  • Vegi - 2012-01-14 14:21

    Police use rubber bullets not defensively, but with clear intent to provoke demonstrators. Violence is usually initiated by the police. Not only rubber bullets should not be used, but also other tools of torture in the police arsenal. Many of them are really arrogant, provocative and aggressive, hence the recent incidents of fight back against them in which they are later depicted as the victims.

      louis.langenhoven - 2012-01-14 14:54


      david.lebethe - 2012-01-14 14:55

      You are spot on my bra. Police are common denominator in all protests that end up violently. However, unlike in other countries (e.g. England) police are never investigated, let alone prosecuted. I believe we will have peaceful protests from now onwards.

      TheWatcher - 2012-01-14 15:40

      @david.lebethe actually the common theme throughout these riots is the inability of the ANC govt to deliver the basic services they promised during election time. THEN AFTER THAT people get fed up and protest, the police get sent in and the whole thing escalates. Sort out the root of the problem first.

      Ronald - 2012-01-14 16:09

      David, I beg to differ. Many a "peaceful demonstration" had turned violent before the Police took a hand purely because the marshals or organisers were unable to control the crowds. I have been present on three such occasions where the demonstrators turned on onlookers, vendors and shop owners while the police were observing from afar. Only then did they intervene. With these new measures the demonstrations are likely to turn violent more often as the threat from the Police is diminished. Yes, there are those idiots in the SAPS that use their position to enact their sadistic pleasures, but their actions are now putting more of their colleagues at risk. I hope these morons are placed, unarmed, in the forefront of trying to subdue the next violent demonstration so they can reap the fruits of their actions.

      George - 2012-01-15 07:05

      Use dogs, one dog will do the work ow 20 policemen and control 5000 protesters with ease. Now you know why the police star is on the drivers door. The dog knows where to get in

  • Vegi - 2012-01-14 14:23

    For idiots who advocate use of the real thing I wish you were at the receiving end of the real thing.

      Kim - 2012-01-14 14:54


      Jerhone - 2012-01-14 18:02

      I HAVE THE ANSWER just fly a police helicopter over the demonstrators and drop a BIG bucket of non poisonous snakes on them you'll clear the area in record time only thing is they will stampede and kill one another, or slip in their own sh*t trying to get away

      George - 2012-01-14 19:03

      @ Kim. are you insaulting us (ha ha )

      werner.smidt - 2012-01-15 00:14

      Kinda paradoxical, since it would mean you would be on the receiving end too . . .

      Hotkop - 2012-01-15 00:54

      Vegi. Find yourself a brain on ebay. You can do a pretty awesome upgrade for $2.

      Henk - 2012-01-16 10:55

      Why don't they just demonstrate with their vote? Do they have to disrupt innocent people's lives and destroy property in order to demonstrate? Why stone cars and set tyres alight on the road? If they vote for a proper party that doesn't promise them the moon and the stars, they would not HAVE to demonstrate.

  • Shirley - 2012-01-14 14:23

    More laws to protect the criminals but when the police ar killed theres a big hoo ha! Yes criminals-if they can throw petrol bombs,bricks and vandalise then they ARE criminals!

  • Ben - 2012-01-14 14:26

    It is not the rubber bullets which are the cause of the problem. It is bad service delivery. Try to fix that.

      Ronald - 2012-01-14 16:22

      Also do not allow any moron to be accepted into the SAPS. I can remember until about 18-19 years ago that a person applying to the SAPS had to have completed matric and had to pass a psychological evaluation before being accepted into the Police. Now you find some people that are grossly overweight, dumb as a rock and with a huge chip on the shoulder with the minimum of education in law and Police procedure being tasked with upholding the laws and protecting the citizens of SA. Just try to lay a charge at a Police station. Chances are that you will have to write your own statement as well as having the relevant section of the law ready as very few officers behind the counter knows their definitions of the different offences in order to have the relevant points in said statement.

  • inwardk - 2012-01-14 14:34

    I don't want to be a policeman if I am not allowed to defend myself against hooligans. I am sure any sensible person would feel the same. This order coming from the top is just crazy. A good example of an insensitive autocratic ruling made in haste without any regard or concern for the practical implications.

      Jerhone - 2012-01-14 18:07

      another genius in charge of the police old SHOWERHEAD really knows how to pick them, he must have stood in his garden and asked his gardenboys "WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE"

  • Wayne - 2012-01-14 14:37

    You know, Police risk their life's to protect us and our property, its a thankless job that pays a minimum and has extreme risks. Criminals in this country get more and more rights and the life's of enforcers become cheaper every day. How are they suppose to do their job if we keep on taking their tools away? Protests in Africa are very dangerous and often result in violent conflicts, how are the police suppose to keep the crowds at a distance when things become violent or even protect themselfs? Shoot them with blanks? OMG - how long do you think that is going to scare people if they know its blanks? From what we have seen earlier this year in the UK, the police over there where basically left without any option on how to control the crowds and police officers got injured...that is a first rate country - what do you think is going to happen in our country?

  • Nicholas - 2012-01-14 15:00

    Here we go, copying the POMS again trying to be as politically correct as possible. Are they going to hand out roses instead?

      Max - 2012-01-14 15:18

      Agree with you but remember the kind of protesters is a bit different in South Africa, the police will end up putting the roses on their own graves.

      Jerhone - 2012-01-14 18:11

      wait for it ,new broom in charge now to be pommies we'll revert back to inspector instead of general disaster, at the expence of the taxpayer, eish all these decisions she is making my brain explode

  • chris.kleynhans - 2012-01-14 15:04

    There is a very important principle that we have to begin to understand because we have been so programmed through the ages that we have lost the perception of what we are. We, they ,us and them, we are not animals, we are human beings and desrve at any moment to be treated as such. There may be many criminal motives why people go on the riot when they pretend to protest but in there or maybe in there are people that are actually just trying to get their voice heard. And when the rubber bullets fly, they die and they die innocently. I have been watching often and the police are shooting indiscriminately at people..We may have freedom of speech in this country but we have very few ways in to which we can actually be heard. The press does not do that, the press has an agenda and they stick to it. So in short, when did we become anybody elses animals and who gives them the right to shoot us. Only if we don't recognize the right to life and property of others do we deserve to be brought under control. and yes, it does become difficult but still, when protests come, the voice of those that feel deprived are in it. During protests we always have this or that councillor or somebody making some promises and when the protests are brought under control nothing happens. The problems lies again with the fat cats that shrug their shoulders and that are too glad that somebody sorts out their dirty little problems for them.

      Max - 2012-01-14 15:29

      Chris, if something breeds, behaves, kills etc like an animal then it loses its right to human rights and must be dealt with as a problem animal.

      david.lebethe - 2012-01-14 15:46

      You cant deny that those who march to protest against poor service delivery and salaries or working conditions are black people when whites rely on media to highlight their problems. As such, the question of us and them is unavoidable. Indeed, people use protests as a last resort and people are often charged as the sight of armed police is in itself provocative. It is common that rogue elements will take advantage of the situation and use the opportunity to ignate the power keg for their own interests. With police adopting diffrent approach, may be we will see difference (e.g. whites throwing their lot with protestors) this time around.

      chris.kleynhans - 2012-01-14 16:59

      It will be a great day in the history of this country when whites and blacks can take to the streets and protest together as one. We need that because we need something that unites us. Both whites and blacks feel manhandled by the government but for different reasons. The government benefits from the white/black divide and I won't be surprised if that is their strategy because as sure as hell this president is not doing anything to improve race relations. Black equate whites with the elite and rich and although whites are better of as a group, they are struggling as well and the playing field is not level for anybody. We need to stand up collectively against those that are robbing the fiscus because lavish parties all around is not helping for poverty and siphening just makes a small number super-rich.

      Heinrich - 2012-01-15 09:22

      Good to see someone sees the wood, chris.

  • Alva - 2012-01-14 15:07

    My vote is for pyrotechnics,water cannons and tear gas.

  • Errol - 2012-01-14 15:09

    Andries Tatane is the ANC's Hecror Pieterson.

      Errol - 2012-01-14 15:10

      Correction: Hecror = Hector.

  • Craig - 2012-01-14 15:12

    LOL! What a joke. What next? Take away their rubber batons & give water pistols. No wonder this country's police force so useless when you got idiots heading it up. I bet the ANC decided that rule with Cosatu so they can strike & not get hurt.

  • Deeteem - 2012-01-14 15:24

    Talking to a mob will NEVER work !! The ANC created this problem of black on black violence and do not want to take responsibility BUT then ...... do they ever !!

      carpejugulim - 2012-01-15 08:16

      I'll second that! I take it that my question about the powers that be have tried talking to an angry mob offended someone but it was a valid question. I love it when office jockeys make decisions without looking at all sides first. All it takes is one person to throw the first stone, light the first match and all self control goes out the window *poof* converted into mob mentality and wanton destruction of property

  • Nkosinathi - 2012-01-14 15:27

    My heart goes out for the men and women in blue uniform who faces armed hooligans 24/7. In my life time I do not know of a peaceful marh or toyitoyi ever. Police must use full force against hooligans. Excesive use of rubber bullets is a necessity against hooligans who trow stones, burn property, vandalise property and creat anarchy in public, all those who opposes this are themselves criminals.

      carpejugulim - 2012-01-15 08:25

      Nkosinathi I am sure that there are many that echo your sentiments

  • lhfick - 2012-01-14 15:33

    We shall kiss them in future!

  • TheWatcher - 2012-01-14 15:47

    If you want to stop the police using rubber bullets then surely the best way is to provide the services promised during election time in the first place.

  • Jason - 2012-01-14 15:48

    Police injuries during riots will increase. Protesters will know they cant use Rubber bullets and they will do more damage to private property. ultimately a riot will get completely out of control one day and the police will use live rounds out of fear and scores will die. Its not the rubber bullets that are the problem, its the cops training and the scene commanders lack of leadership!

      Morakane - 2012-01-14 16:29

      Echo that Jay. In any line of rescue work, whether it be fire fighter, policeman, paramadec etc, one needs to go in with a clear head, asses the situation and proceed from there. Too many times, police pack in their rifles without even beeing on the scene. No water canistors or tear gas, just rifles and rubber bullets. Its like they are already in fighting mode before they get there. In some instances the use of rubber bullets is necessary..indeed I am not denying that, but the situation needs to be assesed before firing the first shot. Other alternatives need to be looked at so that innocent people dont get hurt or even lose their lives, as has been reported. Policemen need to be the voice of reason, the calm ones and in my mind you cant do that when you already rock up with a rifle in hand and no alternatives.

  • raymond.kok3 - 2012-01-14 15:53

    my suggestion is pick up the same stone and trow it back at them its not the rubber bullet thats the problem but the idiot with the shotgun and the lack of order amongst the member in the situation. PLEASE TRAIN THEM PROPERLY GUN DONT KILL PEOPLE OTHER PEOPLE DO, GET PROPER LEADERSHIP IN PLACE

  • Debbie - 2012-01-14 16:00

    BUT WHY??? .... Stingers is such fun!!!! ... AND it keeps those Holligans who just simply find it UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE to behave in a civilised cultured manner in check ... I say "SAPS go for the holligan BRUISING as needed & to protect your own and our innocent lives when we all placed at risk"

  • Simon - 2012-01-14 16:26

    so the next thing we know : police are not allowed to use teargass as bla bla died form a asthma attack . or police are given water pistols to control crowed : think of that , Police officer killed as he tried to fight protester , what the hell is he ding protesting in the first place , the police only use it when their lives or civilian lives are in danger , come on SA

  • yucfgjdxgsxhcghgvdcdikfbvgdj - 2012-01-14 16:53

    A few years ago, these protesters were killing off foreigners in their xenophobic attacks, as it was called. They were shooting at police officers and behaving like in a war zone. I still dont understand why real ammunition wasnt used on those people. But now they even want to get rid of the rubber bullets??? Are we going to throw pillows at violent protesters in future? Or we could ask them nicely to stop :) afterwards we can all be happy and sing songs together! What a plan!!

      Kobus - 2012-01-14 21:07

      it has been done before , check youtube for violent pillow attacks in streets

  • Jan - 2012-01-14 17:27

    I can smell an upcoming election!

      George - 2012-01-15 07:00

      @ Jan, Then dont look down

  • SarelJBotha - 2012-01-14 18:59

    If the police act ounder their oaths as PEACE OFFICERS, none of these troubles will happen. They are also not suppose to protect the cause of the government of the day or the socalled "ruling party", but to protect the people.

  • Kobus - 2012-01-14 21:05

    YEAH , get rid of rubber bullets ...... AND USE REAL ONES ! only way to resolve thick headed conflicts

      Gavy Badiata - 2012-01-15 05:10

      N start with hellen zille

      Silver - 2012-01-15 08:19

      I vote for starting with Zuma.

  • Cindy Mendes - 2012-01-14 22:33

    Ya forget about the rubber bullets just use real ones...

  • Patrick - 2012-01-15 00:03

    give them all icecream instead!!!

  • Juan - 2012-01-15 04:43

    Why should the cops do anything? I say ban the lot, teargas, rubber bullets etc, etc. Rather provide them with transport to their local ANC branch and let them vent their anger over there

  • Buti - 2012-01-15 06:45

    Companies that manufactures rubber bullet must be burn down also bcoz there's no use of it anymore. hearing all this information, criminals who enjoy violence are more excited than before from now on.

  • IrvinIco - 2012-01-15 07:40

    i totally agree to stopping the use of rubber bullets.Why must a person be killed for peacefully expressing his democratic right to protest

      Silver - 2012-01-15 08:17

      "peacefully expressing his democratic right" On what planet do you live? This is South Africa. The language is clear.

  • Heinrich - 2012-01-15 08:47

    One must remember that many protests are in fact a reaction, not self-motivated action initiated by evil. This reaction often comes after long periods of tolerating subhuman conditions. Frustration and anger builds up, especially in cases where municipal officers are more concerned about what car they are going to buy or are too busy planning their next holiday. I notice that many readers see the actions of the people as hooliganism. The throwing of rocks, upturning of garbage cans, the burning down of structures and the burning of tyres on the road are elements of the reaction that actually result in getting attention. This is seen by many as a measure of success. Police intervention of any form just aggravates the situation, partly because it creates the impression that the people are the culprits. The real culprit behind this is the ANC. The whole system whereby municipal officials are appointed, the way in which services are planned, executed and monitored; the control of the flow of funds; the whole ethic and mechanics of local government is so hidden from the people.

  • Heinrich - 2012-01-15 08:49

    The only way to fix the situation is to turn government from upside down to the right way up. Put the people in charge . The communities themselves should elect their municipal leaders. No political party should be involved in any way whatsoever. There should be a small controlling body consisting of elected community members who control the activities of the Municipality on behalf of the community. This body should have insight and control of all Municipal activities and information. Community members should be fully aware, and via elected representation party to, amongst others the following: Recurring services. Nature, standards and cost. Quantified plans for improvement. New services needed. Plans to improve infrastructure. Internal workings of Municipality eg *Total budget and various sub components * Ratio of costs (eg Staff : Administrative, Administrative : Workers, Material: Labour etc. *The salaries and perks of municipal executives Regular scheduled meetings should be held during which progress is measured against the approved plans. During these meetings under-performing staff can be elected out of their positions. My feeling is that we spend so much time and energy on reaction to reaction, all which is caused by the lack of action in the first place. Police action and reaction should be focused on fighting crime and serving the community-not fighting with them.

  • Hermann - 2012-01-15 08:55

    When there demonstrations and destruction why send the police, send the barbarians tools to successfully complete what they started and then give the leaders cabinet posts.

  • Urban.Hawk - 2012-01-15 09:14

    in this country we need bigger rubber bullets with more power.only problem is the cops are just another criminal gang.what to do,what to do?

  • Daan - 2012-01-15 09:35

    Another stupid decision. In the good old days we first tenderised them, then fumigated them, and only THEN set the dogs on them.

  • j.c.s.mailbox - 2012-01-15 12:17

    Protests marches is the wrong name for the wrong thing. No protest march in S.A. was beginning peacefully and end up peacefully. So the right name should be lunetical anargy operations. Usually it is a protest against our stupid government with their stupid legislations, but the property & lives of innocent people is that is comming under the axe of violent behaviour. So therefor likewise operation against them will be appropriate. But still our government decisions proof to be criminalfriendly. Obvious that they be on the soft side to their bros with which they can assosiate. @ Chris Kleynhans: Stop the we talking. You are actually only talking for yourself. Wakker word boet en kry biekie houvas in die lewe!!

  • Richard - 2012-01-15 12:29

    Most of them Misused It; So I believe it's right disarm them Bldy f**ls SAP Officers Think that they Own this country doing what the feel like doing to the community I've been a victim of that they almost killed me.

  • Jerhone - 2012-01-15 17:26

    Lieutenant General Elias Mawel (defender of the weak and helpless fastest moving general through the ranks in all world forces) "Negotiation remains the first option, then pyrotechnics (blanks)", isn't pyrotechnics fireworks and not blanks? i see we have another prize packet GENERAL like the other fifty they employ

  • Zebelon - 2012-01-15 23:24

    An order to the police nationally will not come from a unit of the SAPF but from the Commissioner's HQ. Reporters must report sensibly and correctly.

  • Ian - 2012-01-16 02:44

    brilliant idea, use live ammo

  • jerry.pres - 2012-01-16 08:01

    Great idea, take away rubber bullets and go to Toy'r'Us to equip our police force with the guns. Preferably water guns. That will help to lower crime rate and violence in this country.

  • tacod - 2012-01-16 09:00

    I would presume now it would be sticks and stones against the mobs. Get the municipalities to sort out their nonsense and there will not be protests. South Africa is the county with the most separate protests per year. Does that tell you something about the government?

  • Denver - 2012-03-12 16:19


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