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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

Human Rights Commission calls on police to respect SA Constitution

7 April 2017

BE AWARE of criminal elements planning to disrupt protests today and take note of road closures in and around Durban.

Buses are blocking Umgeni Road, Cannaught bridge, the M4 at Blue Lagoon and the N3 Spaghetti Junction.
Thousands of South Africans are exercising their right to protest today in the #ZumaMustFall marches. Meanwhile, some have expressed their intention to disrupt these legal protests.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it is deeply concerned by comments, which seem to encourage the use of violence in contravention of the law and disregard of entrenched constitutional rights ahead of today’s marches across the country.

While the SAHRC is encouraged and welcomes the commitment of the South African Police Services to confront and fight violent crime with renewed vigour, and supports its call to the community to work with the police in that respect, the commission is concerned that the comments made by the minister of police, Fikile Mbalula, on 4 April, in which he is quoted as saying: ‘We must not smile with heavily armed and dangerous criminals. We must nail them. We must be merciless. The Human Rights Commission will find us on the way. We won’t be governed by criminals and they should be put in their place’, can be understood as not only encouraging members of the police to disregard and violate constitutionally entrenched rights in the process of fighting violent crime, but also undermines the role of the SAHRC as an institution supporting constitutional democracy in this country,” read a statement from the SAHRC.

The commission also condemned the statement by ANC Youth League’s Sifiso Mtsweni, in which he said: “We want to say to Mmusi Maimane, and his DA friends, we are waiting for you on Friday, you will find the ANC Youth League with sjamboks, and all weapons available at our disposal.”

The SAHRC strongly condemns any form of unlawful violation of human rights by anybody including the police.

The Commission wishes to reiterate that everyone has the Constitution-given right to peaceful protest, to life, to due process, to be free from all forms of violence from either public or private sources, and to equality before the law.”

Sections 16 and 17 of the SA Bill of Rights protects citizens’ rights to freedom of expression and petition.

“The SAHRC recognises the extreme circumstances in which our police find themselves in exercising their law enforcement mandate and the constitutional requirements of human rights and policing. However, the commission wishes to stress the importance of the SAPS respecting the rule of law and performing their admittedly difficult tasks with a clear recognition and observance of the rights as ascribed within our Constitution.”

Source: Southlands Sun

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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