Minister Nathi Mthethwa urges striking truck drivers to uphold the law

Government and law enforcement agencies will act against anyone found to be responsible for the recent violent destructions, intimidation of people and burning of trucks. This is a stern warning given today by the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa amid the violent acts which accompanied the truck drivers’ strike.

“We are monitoring the situation and frankly what we have been observing is pure criminality. Acts of violent destruction and intimidation of innocent people cannot be justified as public protests and that is why we shall act harshly against lawlessness. As we speak our intelligence is currently conducting an analysis of the situation and arrests on the perpetrators are imminent.”

“Government recognises the democratic rights of any person to express their grievances, whether through a public protest or any other legal gathering as stipulated within the labour laws. However such rights do not imply that those do not who wish to participate in a strike must be intimidated, beaten and properties destroyed,” added the Minister.

Police have the capacity to handle public protests as they are guided by clear policies on how to put in place appropriate, effective operational strategies and systems. For police to be able to effectively handle these protests, protesters also have a crucial role to play in this regard so that we avert any potential tensions.

This truck driver’s protest has been accompanied by serious provocations, intimidations, public violence and even elements of criminality. As expected, nobody has claimed responsibility for these actions but we shall do everything in our power, to apprehend anyone who may have been responsible.

“Whilst the police have a responsibility to police public protests, gatherings and events within the framework of the law, the Gatherings Act confers considerable responsibilities on conveners or organisers of events to ensure that such events are carried out in an orderly and peaceful manner. Any contravention of this must result in the organisers facing criminal charges,” added Minister Mthethwa.

The Minister emphasised that a further challenge in policing public protests, demonstrations and illegal gatherings is that such situations draw the police away from their normal policing activities. The deployment of additional members to public protests, in a way, compels the police to redirect resources from their normal day-to-day policing activities.

“We recently shared with the nation the national crime statistics and collectively, as society and government we should be focusing on priority crimes such as murder, sexual offenses, assault grievous bodily harm and aggravated robberies. That is where all our energies must be directed at.”

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