Confronting Public Violence

The hazards the police face in confronting violent protests (Daily News, June 28) and their lack of resources provides insight as to why South Africa is succumbing to anarchy.

According to a report published in The Mercury on June 15, 2016, between 1999 and 2016, there were 67,750 protests staged which works out to 13 each day. Many of those protests were violent.

Based on that reality, police resources need to be capable of dealing with what is virtually a daily occurrence. But what also needs to be drummed into those bent on violent protest is that their constitutional rights under section 17 to protest, demonstrate and picket are valid only in an unarmed capacity.

When protesters start throwing rocks, trashing property and endangering the lives of those whose task it is to uphold law and order, then violence needs to be confronted with equal ferocity. The thin blue line which the police constitute, should not be vulnerable or forced to retreat in the face of mob violence. If the police are unable to maintain law and order and to defeat violence, then what is the worth of other aspects of the Bill of Rights?

Public violence cannot be condoned or tolerated. Excuses about the lack of service delivery and other social gripes can in no way justify public violence and assault on the police. Given the violence and looting that occurred at the Mooi River toll recently and elsewhere, perhaps the time has come for the police to warn that in future they will treat violent protest the way Napoleon did – with a “whiff of grapeshot.” It cured anarchy in his time.

 Sent into The Daily News and published, 2 July 2018.

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