Sitole: Police won't stop using rubber bullets but review on protest use coming

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole said that new guidelines on the use of rubber bullets were being drawn up.

A large group of South African Police Service (SAPS) officers disperse a group of students who were blocking roads during a protest in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on 10 March 2021. Picture: Emmanuel Croset/AFP

CAPE TOWN - National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole said that while it would be impossible to ban the use of rubber bullets, the South African Police Service (SAPS) would review their use during protests.

He made the announcement at a briefing on the release of a report on policing and crowd control on Monday.

The document was authored by a panel of experts appointed by Cabinet in 2016 on the recommendation of the Farlam Commission.

That commission was established after the killing of 44 people during protests by Lonmin mineworkers in 2012.

Sitole said that it would be virtually impossible to ban the use of rubber bullets outright. But officers must be better trained on how and when to use them.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema wants the ammunition to be banned.

Sitole said that new guidelines were being drawn up: “We are not going to stop the use of rubber bullets, but we are going to change the standard operational procedure and we are going to issue a new national instruction on how they should be utilised.”

The death of Mthokozisi Ntumba during a student protest in Johannesburg earlier this month has again brought police heavy-handedness into the spotlight.

Four police officers were arrested for Ntumba's death.

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