Force used against peaceful tourism protesters: Commissioner’s explanation – Poor


Force used against peaceful tourism protesters: Commissioner’s explanation – Poor
Force used against peaceful tourism protesters: Commissioner's explanation - Poor

The civil rights organisation AfriForum is unhappy with the explanation of Lt Gen Yolisa Matakata, Western Cape Police Commissioner, of the unnecessary brutality against members of the tourism industry in July 2020. AfriForum has sent a letter to Matakata already on 24 July 2020, in which the organisation requests reasons for the forceful treatment after members of the tourism industry protested peacefully but were dispersed by the SAPS with a water cannon, teargas and stun grenades.

After various letters of demand directed at Matakata to request an explanation, she eventually explained in a letter dated 27 August that all gatherings – apart from certain exceptions – were prohibited in terms of Regulation 37 of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002. The tourism industry’s gathering was not included in the exceptions, according to Matakata.

“All participants wore facial masks, maintained physical distances of 1,5 metres and protested peacefully. No-one misbehaved at any times or threatened any property or lives. Yet the SAPS thought it good to employ excessive force to disperse the group,” says Thomas van Dalen, AfriForum’s Head of Community Safety for the southern region.

According to Van Dalen, large-scale landgrabs and protest occurred at the same time across the Cape Town metropolitan area, although the SAPS acted to a lesser extent on these – and in some cases did not even act.

“The SAPS’s actions during this peaceful protest – where participants were identified as soft targets – in contrast to their hesitation to act when people’s property or lives are threatened, point to poor training and an accompanying inability to maintain law and order. In light of this, AfriForum takes note of Lt Gen Matakata’s weak excuse and rejects her statement that the use of the water canon in this case was part of the use of minimum force,” Van Dalen says.

AfriForum will approach Gen Khehla Sithole, National Police Commissioner, to ascertain whether he agrees with the Western Cape Commissioner’s view that her way of handling the protests supports the notion of “minimum force”.

Read the original article in Afrikaans on AfriForum

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