Human Rights Commission condemns attack on Joburg cops

The South African Human Rights Commission has condemned the attack on law enforcement officials in the Johannesburg CBD on Thursday.

Johannesburg metro officers and the police were responding to a protest in Rahima Moosa Street when they came under attack.

Police spokesperson Captain Xoli Mbele said shop owners in the CBD had embarked on a violent protest when the police wanted to confiscate alleged fake goods they were selling.

"These attacks undermine the constitutional mechanisms that are designed to enhance our social fibre and maintain the rule of law. All inhabitants of the Republic must abide by the laws of the country without exception and allow law enforcement officials to conduct their duties without hindrance," the SAHRC said in a statement.

The commission called on the minister of police and management of law enforcement agencies to intensify their efforts to maintain law and order.

"We similarly urge communities to respect the law and refrain from preventing law enforcement officials from doing their jobs. Doing so is illegal. As communities, we must respect the role played by law enforcement officials in serving the community, safeguarding lives and property without discrimination," the commission said.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of parliament's portfolio committee on police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, has also criticised the attacks on police.

“It is unacceptable that Johannesburg Metro Police Department and South African Police Service were stopped from doing their work as mandated by the law. SAPS and JMPD must go back into the area to successfully implement and conclude their operation,” said  Joemat-Pettersson, adding that it was "untenable that there will be no-go areas in the country for law enforcement officers".

Government's justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster joined in in condemning the acts of violence in the CBD on Thursday.

"An attack on the law enforcement agencies is an attack on the state, and government views this in the most serious light. Blatant disregard for our law threatens national security and the sovereignty of our nation," the cluster said in a statement  issued on the SAPS media WhatsApp group.

“The blatant attack on police in the line of duty and the vandalism and destruction of property, especially during a crackdown on counterfeit goods, will not be allowed to continue. The sale of counterfeit goods negatively affects South Africa’s economy, and the consequence of not taking action against the sale of counterfeit goods results in loss in sales and profits of genuine goods and brands, and could pose health risks to ordinary consumers.

"Crime prevention is a priority of government and we call on society to continue strengthening collective efforts to reduce crime in South Africa. This will assist in ensuring that lawlessness is not tolerated in our country," said defence minister and chairperson of the cluster Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

She said the cluster would liaise with the international relations and cooperation department  to engage embassies to encourage their citizens to respect the laws of South Africa.

Police minister Bheki Cele and  premier of Gauteng David Makhura met on Friday afternoon to assess the situation.


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