Police on leave or deployed elsewhere to be recalled to curb looting: Popcru

Amnesty calls for restraint from police and tells protesters, this is not the way

12 July 2021 - 13:57 By shonisani tshikalange
A burned truck blocks a road in Durban on July 12 2021 as protests continued over the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.
A burned truck blocks a road in Durban on July 12 2021 as protests continued over the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma.
Image: SANDILE NDLOVU

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) says officers who are on leave or are deployed elsewhere are to be redeployed to help curb the spread of looting engulfing parts of the country.

This comes after an urgent Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC) meeting which was convened on Monday.

“We call on all our members to heed this call for a recall to defend our country from all these violent protests, and urge all members to be vigilant and exercise extreme caution when discharging their duties.”

Popcru said the recall will be done “on the basis that no member shall forfeit their benefits”.

“Popcru further called for an immediate implementation of the danger allowance for members that will be deployed for this purpose [and] deployment of senior management on all operational imperatives.”

Amnesty International SA (Aisa) meanwhile called on police minister Bheki Cele to ensure that there are enough resources on the ground to stop the “deadly violence and looting that is taking place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.”

Aisa’s executive director Shenilla Mohamed said they were concerned by reports of a lack of police response or presence in many of the hotspot areas where violence and looting continue unabated.

“We understand that it is not always possible for the police to be everywhere and that the looting happens sporadically, but there is clearly a need for more boots on the ground to stop the anarchy and bring an end to this lawlessness,” said Mohamed.

Mohamed said while the low level of police visibility and presence is worrying and must be dealt with, police must also ensure they comply with international and national laws of standard when it comes to the use of force. 

“We recognise that people are suffering, there is massive inequality and people are hungry and unemployed, and that this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, violence and looting is not the answer and sustainable solutions need to be found to address this.

“We also condemn the reported attacks on journalists who are out in the streets trying to cover what is happening. Journalists must be allowed to do their jobs without fear and these attacks on the media are a clear sign that the situation is degenerating and swift action by the authorities is needed,” said Mohamed.

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