Government calls on protesters in national shutdown to remain peaceful

Saftu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi leads Saftu in a previous protest march against poverty. (Photo: Lameez Omarjee, Fin24)
Saftu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi leads Saftu in a previous protest march against poverty. (Photo: Lameez Omarjee, Fin24)

Government has urged all the members of unions taking part in the nationwide strikes on Wednesday to refrain from violence, intimidation and destruction of property.

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This comes as the SA Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) will protest countrywide over the national minimum wage, parallel to an as yet unresolved bus strike.

Acting director general of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Phumla Williams said despite the central part marches play, government called on protesters to remain peaceful.

ALSO READ: Saftu 'national shutdown' to get underway

"Marches played a central role during the apartheid era and culminated into the transition from apartheid to democracy. Today, marches continue to play a role in the democratic South African society wherein people have a place to make their voices heard," Williams said in a statement.

"Peaceful protests are quintessentially a characteristic of a strengthened democratic and progressive society."

Calls to refrain from violence, destruction, intimidation

Williams said government called on the convenors and marshals of the marches to ensure there was no chaos around Parliament.

"We call on all those participating in the marches across the various provinces to refrain from violence, destruction of property and intimidation," she said.

ALSO READ: What you need to know about the planned national shutdown: Schools, trains not affected

"The rights of people who do not want to participate in the marches must be respected. When marches deviate from the intended cause and becomes characterised by violence, looting and civil disobedience, it is less likely to produce democratic progress.

"Government further calls upon the convenors of the march to ensure that chaos does not ensue around Parliament, as it is a national key point, and the highest law-making arm of the state. The same sentiments should be applied to other areas across the country, where members plan to gather," Williams said.

She said law enforcement agencies should be allowed to carry out its constitutional obligation to protect and ensure all citizens are safe.

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