Phiyega: Shortage of public order officers

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says the country has a shortage of public order policing.

FILE: National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says the main reason why police are struggling to control protests is because of a shortage of public order policing officers.

There are currently only 4,000 such officers while in 2006 there was almost double the amount.

The country has seen a spate of violent service delivery protests over the past few weeks which are likely to increase due to the general elections in May.

Phiyega has acknowledged that proper training is needed to advise officers how to deal with violence during service delivery protests.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has offered to help police train officers in order to make sure people's rights are not infringed.

The institute's Johan Burger says it is important to identify the types of protests in order to diagnose how to handle them.

"The causes of that particular action go much deeper than only protesting against a lack of a particular service. We need to have a much better understanding of this."

The SAHRC says it is worrying to hear that protesters believe the police of today are not different from the apartheid police.

Meanwhile, several people have been killed during protests since the beginning of the year.

Government has urged the public to protest peacefully and refrain from destroying municipal property.