Pretoria – Minister of Police Bheki Cele has ordered public order policing units to refuse be used as a political tool when responding to protests, marches and events.
Cele was attending the launch of the public order policing reserve units in Pretoria, along with National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole.
“You don‘t ask political affiliations of the people you will be working with, you deal with them as South Africans,” said Cele.
“Don‘t be employed by the politicians to do their work. That‘s not your territory. Your territory is to protect the South African community regardless of their political affiliations and beliefs.
“We can‘t allow political people to use and abuse the force.”
Cele said that public order policing units should use minimal force when working with communities.
“Your task is to protect civilians, protect the people of South Africa.”
The establishment of the public order policing reserve units will see additional units deployed to KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape, bringing the total to 41 units consisting of four national units and 37 provincial units across the country.
General Sitole said this would increase public order policing unit numbers to 11 000 members in total, from the current 5 600.
He added that the decision to enhance the response capacity to public violence and crowd management was in view of the ongoing violent protests across the country which often result in damage to public property and injury to people.
Sitole said that in keeping with the findings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, all units would be fully equipped.
“State-of-the-art equipment such as new generation Nyalas, water cannons, vehicles, video cameras and protective gear, to name a few, were procured to enable our POP (public order policing) members to effectively perform their duties of crowd management and public order policing throughout the country,” said Sitole.