Kate Lorimer MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson Safety & Security
I have written to the Police requesting a meeting with the Acting Commissioner to discuss what went wrong with the policing in the DA march to Cosatu and how we can avoid the same situation re-occurring in future.
Yesterday I sent a letter to Provincial Commissioner Mzwandile Petros regarding the complete lack of preparedness and support given to the DA March to COSATU on Tuesday. The letter was then forwarded to acting Provincial Commissioner Gela. (see letter below)
I have not, as yet, had any response to my urgent communication in which I explained what had happened and requested some answers and an urgent investigation into the matter.
The lack of Public Order Policing organisation, protection and resourcing at the March is unacceptable and the following questions must be answered:
1. Why were there not more Public Order Police on the scene?
2. Why were the COSATU supporters not dispersed as soon as they started gathering outside COSATU House on Tuesday morning? They had no permission to gather and march and were illegal.
3. Why were the police not present at the first intersection where the DA marchers were attacked by COSATU supporters?
4. Why was only one Nyala deployed?
5. Why were COSATU allowed to come down Stiemens, Jorrisen and De Korte Streets to attack the DA marchers who were retreating?
6. Why were teargas and rubber bullets fired at DA marchers who were clearly not the aggressors?
7. Why did more cops arrive only after my phone call discussions with Generals Petros and Gela?
8. In view of public threats made by COSATU and NUMSA, was any threat assessment conducted prior to the March?
9. What communication took place between SAPS and JMPD regarding the march?
I have also requested that the “Taser Thug,” who the DA has tentatively identified, be investigated and charged. According to reports he used to be a community patroller in Yeoville and if he is still affiliated to the police he must be dismissed.
It is imperative that the SAPS explain why they did not uphold the legal right of the DA to march. Did political pressure influence their behaviour?
LETTER TO THE PROVINCIAL COMMISSIONER
Dear Lt. Gen Petros
I would urgently like your personal response to this issue please.
I appreciate your assistance yesterday when I called. However, it should not have been necessary. The lack of public order policing preparedness and protection was unacceptable.
The DA March to COSATU House was well publicised for a couple of weeks beforehand and both NUMSA and COSATU made threats, in media statements, that
they could not be responsible for the safety of the DA.
The DA March was legal and had obtained the necessary permit from JMPD. The COSATU gathering was illegal and should have been dispersed as soon as they started gathering. Early in the morning one of our organisers went to check COSATU house and when he saw around 100 people there, he asked a police member there why they were not being dispersed, he was told by your member not to tell him how to do his job and threatened with arrest.
THe DA Marchers were confronted by COSATU marchers who immediately started throwing rocks – no SAPS in sight – at all times the Leaders of the DA March were shouting at the DA marchers not to retaliate and to retreat. THe DA marchers then proceeded up to the next intersection but COSATU marchers ran parallel and blocked them again. More rocks were thrown by COSATU – still no sign of SAPS – DA Marchers then started chanting “We are peaceful” and singing the National anthem. ( See video on this link
http://www.beeld.com/Suid-Afrika/Nuus/Waar-was-polisie-metropolisie-DA-20120515) Not a POP member in sight.
Finally, at this point, one Nyala made an appearance from the DA side of the march and tried to block COSATU. It was also at this point that a number of DA marchers were hit in the head with rocks and a Mail & Guardian journalist too.
Again the DA tried to move away but there was no support from SAPS as the one and only Nyala was now behind the marchers. When COSATU reached the traffic lights on Ameshof Street in front of Liberty Life, the riot police and JMPD didn’t even try to stop them from turning left into De Beer Street and directly into the stream of DA marchers still coming across Stiemens Street from Jorissen, even though the problem was pointed out to them. A number of DA marchers were caught by COSATU marchers and hit and slapped – Women and older people. No Police assistance
THe DA March continued retreating along Ameshoff and into Jan SMuts so they could recross Queen Elizabeth Bridge. COSATU again came from the side streets, De Korte and Jorrisen, and threw rocks. AT this stage 2 little SAPS Golfs from Hillbrow pitched up. This is more or less the time I called you as there was no proper police support. The COSATU marchers were almost right in the DA’s midst. Tear gas was then used by the few Metro Police Officers on scene. This though was fired at the DA Marchers at close range with cannisters hitting DA Marchers. It seems too as if rubber bullets were fired too, but I am not sure by whom.
As the bulk of DA marchers were crossing Queen Elizabeth Bridge, COSATU marchers ran to block them once again using Viljoen Street. Again no police assistance. I was, by this time at the very back of the DA Marchers and this is when the water cannon finally arrived and sprayed the COSATU marchers. This was the time at which the police helicopter was in the air. Presumably the one with General Gela aboard.
There had quite clearly been no communication between the SAPS and the JMPD regarding this March. The two were badly organised and seriously undermanned and under resourced.
It is the job of the SAPS to uphold the law and the DA in this case, had a legal right to march.
Over and over again I heard our DA marchers saying they would never trust the police again as the SAPS were clearly biased towards COSATU. It is understandable that they came to this conclusion. I only hope that you can assure me your organisation is not partisan.
I would appreciate it if you could investigate why there was so little preparation and support from the SAPS and let me know the outcome.
Kate Lorimer MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson Safety & Security