In the wake of Marikana Massacre, Farlam Commission concluded the section of its report on public order policing with recommendations for training of police officers in dealing with public protests and called for the establishment of panel of experts to look into the transformation of the policing challenges. The panel completed and handed their report with recommendations to the Police Minister in 2018. The police minister never released the report up to date.
Since Marikana, the police handling of protests has not changed. It ends in injuries and fatalities. Police firing rubber bullets and stun grenades indiscriminately at the protestors has remained the order of the day. This is what led to the death of Mthokosizi Ntumba and Katlego Monareng at the hands of police during protests, and many other unreported cases of police brutality and killing that are experienced and witnessed by activists in every protest.
Sean Tait, the director of African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum, said that police in Limpopo, Gauteng, Western and Eastern Cape have cavalier recklessness in firing rubber bullets. Hence protests have been marred by chaos and injuries as police approach any protest, peaceful or violent, with force.
This has unfortunately led to the loss of lives of those active citizens and militant sections of the working class people who put up a fight against austerity and corruption in the public sector, and exploitation and poverty wages in the private sector.
The indiscriminate spray of rubber bullets resulting in the death of Mthokosizi Ntumba in Braamfontein, who was not part of the protest, is an illustrative example that the police do not have adequate training in management of public protests and public violence. They spray bullets and use stun grenades even when no life or property is threatened.
This is the more reason why the strategies recommended by the panel of experts on how to address challenges and transform the SAPS is important.
• That the report by a panel of experts on transformation and professionalisation of SAPS on public order policing that was submitted to the Minister of Police be released immediately.
• The portfolio committee members on police be removed for failing to demand the release of the report.
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