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SA police should treat each protest as new event, react differently – Expert

This follows the arrest of 18 people during protests at Parliament this past weekend. Two separate groups of protesters gathered outside the parliamentary precinct to protest gender-based violence and farm killings.

A protester kneels in front of police during an anti-gender-based violence protest in front of Parliament in Cape Town on 29 August 2020. Picture: Courtney Savage

CAPE TOWN – An international law enforcement and security expert says the police should differentiate between protests and act accordingly.

This follows the arrest of 18 people during protests at Parliament this past weekend.

Two separate groups of protesters gathered outside the parliamentary precinct to protest gender-based violence and farm killings.

The protesters appeared in court on Monday on charges of public violence and being in contravention of the disaster management act with the case being postponed.

International law enforcement and security expert Cees de Rover said: “You’d think South African police would be able to differentiate between the two – but not just those two – but be able to approach each protest as a new event that requires a tailor-made solution, or management rather than solution.”

De Rover said the police doesn't have to use excessive force and suggests following the path of dialogue.

“There might be a possibility to look at holding people to account because they didn’t follow the formal procedure, or they did not seek permission to hold the protest. I think that on the part of the dialogue is trying to engage and have conversations with people to try and find out what they are trying to achieve and what the police are trying to achieve and why they are trying to do that.”

Meanwhile, the case involving 18 protesters who were arrested for public violence has been postponed.

Two separate groups held demonstrations over gender-based violence -- and farm killings on Saturday.

They appeared in the Cape Town Magistrates Court on Monday.

The protesters appeared on charges of public violence and being in contravention of the disaster management act.

The GBV protesters say they went to Parliament to highlight concerns around violence against women and children, but turned violent when a group of bikers arrived.

Anti-GBV Movement organiser Jesse Brand explained that a biker broke through the police barricade and that’s when the situation became chaotic.

“The forced that the police used is unlawful, the arrests they made. Everybody was scared after they threw a stun grenade into the crowd. People were screaming and we were saying ‘we come in peace’.”

She said 16 GBV demonstrators and two bikers were in court.

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