Policing expert: Police dealing with protests should try & defuse the situation

The multi-national panel was set up in 2016, a year after the Farlam Commission released its report on the deaths of 44 mineworkers on the platinum belt during august 2012.

FILE: A cross erected on the Koppie after the massacre as a symbol of the lives lost two years ago in Marikana. Picture: EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The panel of experts tasked with helping implement the Farlam Commission’s recommendations on the Marikana massacre is briefing Parliament’s Police Committee for the first time.

The multi-national panel was set up in 2016, a year after the Farlam Commission released its report on the deaths of 44 mine workers on the platinum belt during August 2012.

Key recommendations included the need to demilitarise and professionalise the police service.

One of the panel’s main tasks is to help ensure a tragedy like Marikana never happens again.

Policing expert Eldred de Klerk says the priority for police dealing with protests should be to try and defuse the situation.

“Before any overt use of force; all remedies to bring any conflict, protest or disorder to a peaceful resolution need to be exhausted.”

De Klerk says the panel’s proposing integrity and skills audits of all SA Police Service commanders, in line with the National Development Plan, as well as focused training.

He’s told MPs, however, that the SA Police Service has no dedicated facility to train officers involved in public order policing despite the high number of protests taking place in the country.

De Klerk says the SAPS leadership is in agreement that weapons capable of automatic fire have no place in managing crowds.

The panel of experts is to submit its final report to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)