Editorial: Officers, please cool off the trigger finger

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Protests are part of the fabric of South African society.

We protest at every given opportunity and we leave destruction in its wake.

In the recent past, the consequences of protests have left us shocked.

Who can forget the tragedy that was Marikana, where police officers, unable to control the gathered mine workers, opened fire on the crowd.

Student protests at campuses across the country have shown similarities with service-delivery marches by angry communities.

The destruction of buildings, libraries and laboratories has been recorded in recent protests at institutions of higher learning.

But the protests have also come at a huge price, where young lives are lost to trigger-happy agents who are supposed to provide safety and security during demonstrations.

Last August, we were all shocked when Tshwane University of Technology student Katlego Monareng was killed by a bullet fired from an R5 rifle.

Two officers are standing trial for the murder.

This week we again reacted with shock when Mlungisi Madonsela, a student at the Durban University of Technology, was gunned down by a security guard employed by a private company contracted by the institution to provide security services.

With such painful historical experiences, where failure to implement proper crowd control has led to blood baths, have our safety and security agents been trained well to deal with protests?

Should those who are supposed to guard against vandalism of property even be allowed to carry weapons during protests?

These are some of the questions we should really ask because South Africa does not need another tragedy that could be easily avoided if people were to practise restraint instead of being trigger-happy.

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