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Marikana massacre: 136 recommendations by expert panel for reforms in SAPS

The iconic photograph of strike leader Mgcineni Noki, rallying mine workers at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police in August 2012.


The iconic photograph of strike leader Mgcineni Noki, rallying mine workers at Marikana ahead of their encounter with police in August 2012.

  • Police Minister Bheki Cele has released a report compiled by a panel of experts on the reforms that police should undergo following the Marikana massacre.
  • The report made 136 recommendations.
  • According to Cele, SAPS had already started implementing the recommendations. 

Police have started implementing recommendations by a panel of experts appointed to compile a report for reforms that police should undergo following the Marikana massacre.

The report by the panel of experts, appointed in 2016 because of a Marikana Commission of Inquiry recommendation, was officially released to the public on Monday by Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Cele opened the briefing by speaking about the Marikana massacre and the events leading up to the mass shooting that saw 34 miners killed on 16 August 2012. Before the massacre, 10 people were killed including two security guards and two police officers.

READ | Marikana massacre: Children of miners killed still waiting for justice to be served, 8 years on

“This mass shooting of 34 mineworkers, has certainly forced the South African Police Service (SAPS) to correct where it went wrong,” Cele said.

Panel report

Cele said the panel made 136 recommendations using their terms of reference, which included:

  • SAPS strategy and policy
  • Public order policing processes and procedures
  • Professionalisation and demilitarisation of the police
  • Accountability and transparency in all SAPS operations

The minister added that the panel put forward a detailed programme for the professionalisation of SAPS for reforms in crowd management.

“The review of the SAPS code of conduct; issues of discipline; training and recruitment, as well as competency are also contained in the panel’s findings. The panel sought to give advice on the approaches and possible policy interventions in this regard.”

Implementation 

Although the report had not yet been publicly released, Cele said police had already started implementing the recommendations.

“While it has taken some time to release this vital report, we want to assure South Africans that accountability is in motion,” Cele said.

The following implementations were noted by Cele:

  • The process to criminally prosecute police members involved in the Marikana massacre has been ongoing;
  • SAPS has already paid out over R176 million (R176 905 733) to compensate the families of those who were killed; and
  • Legislative reforms to deal specifically with systematic problems relating to governance, leadership and accountability within SAPS has also commenced.

“The bulk of the recommendations are to be realised in the short to medium term as they are incorporated into the SAPS Act Amendment Bill. This Bill has gone through a round of public comments and these inputs are being finalised before tabling the Bill in Parliament,” Cele said.

“The Bill gives the assurance that no automatic rifles may be used in crowd control management. It will also address matters of vetting and integrity testing for those employed under the SAPS Act, including municipal police.”

READ | ‘Militarisation’ of police, use of rubber bullets a potentially lethal combo, say experts

The minister added that those joining SAPS would also be subjected to processes that sought to ensure that the integrity of the organisation was maintained.

Public order policing

In terms of public order policing, Cele said several interventions were already in place.

These included:

  • R598 million (R 597 781 000) has been spent toward resourcing and capacitating of the Public Order Police unit;
  • Units are equipped with two–way radios, loud hailers, video cameras and PA systems for ease of communication during operations;
  • A total of 6 324 officers have been trained through numerous courses and found competent in proper crowd management; and
  • Police officers in POPS have also been trained on the use of specialised equipment including the use of water cannons and stun grenades.

Cele added that new generation water cannon driving workshops had also been conducted to further equip and empower officers and that all POP officers had been trained in first aid with their vehicles equipped with first aid kits.

IPID

As per the recommendations, the police ministry was also working on strengthening the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

“It is crucial for the IPID to remain responsive in its mandate. It also must have the freedom to build strong capacity and remain an effective impartial oversight body of the SAPS,” Cele said.

“The police ministry remains fully committed to capacitating and resourcing the directorate to ensure it functions effectively and is supported in maintaining its independence.”

Protests

Cele also said that police officers had been directed to use minimal force and a soft approach when dealing with, and trying to diffuse protests.

“All police officers remain obliged to fulfil their constitutional mandate of maintaining public order, protecting and securing the inhabitants of the Republic and their property.”

“They are urged to always exercise restraint and utmost professionalism during these situations of unrest, at all times.”

However, he also called on municipalities and other stakeholders to become far more proactive in removing the root causes that led to violent protests.

“It is worrying that protests are often turning violent and dangerous. The fact is that, communities resort to violent demonstrations if and when they feel their voices are not heard, when their basic needs are not met.”

READ | Retired cop says he’s never witnessed anything like the Marikana scene

“Communities are encouraged to act responsibly and within the law when exercising their democratic right of protest.”

Cele also reiterated that the carrying of dangerous weapons during protests is illegal and attacks on police officers, property and businesses during protests would not be tolerated.

The minister concluded the briefing by speaking out on police killings, which he said should also be condemned in the same manner as when police officers did something wrong.

“In the last month, 12 officers have been killed on and off duty in South Africa. Violence against any law enforcement officer must never be normalised,” Cele said.

“While government and Cabinet have condemned these brutal attacks of our officers, the silence from communities, civil society formations, NGOs, activists, churches and other interest groups is deafening.”


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