Police told not to use rubber bullets

14 January 2012 - 14:04 By Sapa

Police officers are no longer allowed to use rubber bullets or shotguns on protesters, according to a newspaper report.

Beeld reported on Saturday the order was made at the end of December by Lt-Gen Elias Mawela from the police's reaction unit to all police officers in the country.

This follows widespread use of force by police, over the past two years, mainly in protests over service delivery. The use of force and rubber bullets was highlighted by the death of Andries Tatane last April during a protest in Ficksburg.

According to the communiqué by Mawela there were a large number of crowd control incidents where a large number of rubber bullets were used over the last few months.

"Some of these incidents led to negative publicity in the media which led to questions about the use of rubber bullets in such situations," he reportedly wrote.

Rubber bullets are, according to regulation 262, to be used as a last resort.  

In spite of the regulation and that supplies of rubber bullets were recently decreased, there were still serious injuries," he said.

"The use of rubber bullets and bird-shot must therefore summarily be halted." Negotiation remains the first option, then pyrotechnics (blanks), water cannons or tear gas can be used.

The goal must be to defuse conflict with minimum force.

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