You can't expect police to be spectators - Phahlane

2016-10-28 21:06
Khomotso Phahlane. (File)

Khomotso Phahlane. (File)

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Cape Town - The South African Police Service will not apologise for carrying out its mandate to maintain order during ongoing Fees Must Fall protests, acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said on Friday.

Phahlane was briefing the media on the latest developments in nationwide student protests over university fees.

In answer to a question from News24, Phahlane said there was no way police officers would not act if students were attacking them.

"Teargas and stun grenades, as well as rubber bullets, fall within what is referred to as non-lethal weapons," he said.

"Members of the SAPS are urged to exercise maximum restraint. We also said that when the situation requires the proportional use of force as provided by our laws, it will be applied.

"There is no way the police are going to be pelted with stones, and when they apply minimum force, it is considered to be brutality.

"There is no way you can allow police being stoned and property being damaged and expect police to be spectators."

304 arrested in two weeks

READ: Rubber bullets, teargas at Rhodes University

Phahlane said he couldn't condone the behaviour of some of the students, including those who jumped onto police nyalas during a 2 000-strong protest outside Parliament on Wednesday.

"They are allowed to do their work and they are allowed to exercise their powers within the confines of the law.

"That doesn't mean we will condone any wrong behaviour on the part of any member of the South African Police Service," he added.

Three-hundred-and-four people have been arrested over the past two weeks for incidents related to the protests, taking the total to 831 since February 1.

Phahlane said that the rise in incidents outside of university campuses was a contributor to the approximately 60% increase in arrests nationwide.

"You would have noted, when the Fees Must Fall protests started, we did not have many incidents happening outside the premises of the institutions of higher learning," he said.

"The intention lately has been to distract the police; move away from the institutions and start incidents elsewhere."

Police van window smasher arrested

Police had arrested a 33-year-old man who was photographed smashing the window of a police vehicle during violence outside Parliament this week, he continued.

The man was arrested at his place of work in Observatory, and would face a charge of malicious damage to property on Monday. He worked as a cleaner for an outsourcing company at an unnamed university.

Two people had also been arrested on arson charges, in connection with a police vehicle being set alight in Braamfontein.

Phahlane condemned the "intimidation" of police officers via emails and social media following increased presence on campuses.

"It is not the intention of the SAPS to securitise the institutions of higher learning.

"It is a pity that some police officials have been targeted, because they represent security and order."

He also congratulated students who had heeded calls to focus on their studies, rather than protesting.

Arms cache seized in Valhalla Park

In a separate matter, Phahlane congratulated Western Cape police officers for locating and seizing an arms cache in Valhalla Park, Bishop Lavis, which contained over 250 firearms.

Four individuals have been arrested on gun-related charges, he said.

"Firearms get used in gangsterism, taxi violence, hijackings, farm attacks and so on.

"For us, having recovered the large number of firearms, it's a breakthrough.

"That will go a long way for limiting the incidents of crime. You can just imagine how many people could be killed by one firearm."

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Read more on:    khomotso phahlane  |  university fees  |  crime  |  university protests

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