'Police dropped the ball' - Cele admits Cape Town pensioners treated harsher than beach protesters

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People defied police order to not go onto the beach at Muizenberg Beach on January 30, 2021 in Cape Town.
People defied police order to not go onto the beach at Muizenberg Beach on January 30, 2021 in Cape Town.
Brenton Geach/Gallo Images
  • Police have come under fire after treating Muizenberg beach protesters differently to pensioners who were water cannoned while queuing outside Sassa offices in Bellville.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele says a full report is being compiled on why officers used so much force against the pensioners.
  • He has instructed station commanders not to treat people differently.  

Police Minister Bheki Cele has admitted police dropped the ball in its handling of pensioners queuing at a Sassa office as opposed to those who broke lockdown regulations by protesting on a beach.

Cele said: "We should not treat anyone differently. There's been a perception of how we behaved and how we treated pensioners in Bellville and the incident in Muizenberg [on Saturday]."

Those who were water cannoned outside the Sassa offices were poor and vulnerable, he said, and officers should have looked at the situation and worked with those on scene.

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"And when you have the issue in Muizenberg where people go for leisure and sit down and decide to break the law. And they were very circumstantial around them."

He said "police really dropped the ball".

"There will be a full report on why police used so much force on Sassa recipients. The methods that were used was wrong because they were not violent or protesting," said Cele. 

Action

He said action would be taken against officers should it be necessary. 

Cele made the comments while visiting police stations in the Cape Town metropolitan area. This followed several violent incidents over the weekend. 

Cele said: "The army is still working with us and we need to work with the army on matters. Especially in areas where violence is escalating."

Earlier on Wednesday, Cele addressed police station commanders in the province. 

He told officers to enforce the law equally, regardless of race, class or social standing. He said police could not be seen to be favouring one race over the other.

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