SAHRC to investigate the situation in Mothutlung, Brits.For comments email firstname.lastname@example.org [Back]
16 January 2014
Attention: Editors and Reporters
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) would like to expresses its concern at the continued use of force by the police following the killing of at least three people allegedly by the police during a protest over lack of water in Mothutlung, Brits in the North West province.
The SAHRC visited the area on Tuesday with the view of launching an investigation. The SAHRC has decided to launch an own initiative investigation into the causes of the protest in relation to the provision of water.
The SAHRC understands that the protests started on Sunday when the community took to the streets to express their anger over water shortages in the area, which they say has been going on for over three months.
The protests degenerated into violence that led to the reported deaths of three people in what residents described as police brutality.
During the visit, the SAHRC held meetings with the Madibeng Local Municipality and community representatives.
The SAHRC noted the concerns of the residents, and will be following up on the promises made by the Municipality, which include that water will urgently be restored.
The situation remains tense and the SAHRC calls for restraint from both the residents, who have the right to protest, and law enforcers who are acting in pursuance of their mandate in terms of section 205 of the Constitution to keep public order.
The SAHRC condemns the situation in Mothutlung, particularly the unnecessary deaths of three people.
The SAHRC supports and welcomes the investigation launched by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. We hope that the IPID will move with necessary speed and accuracy to establish the cause of the deaths and to ensure that those responsible are brought to book.
It is disappointing that the SAPS top management seem not to have heeded the recommendations of the SAHRC following its investigation into the death of Ficksburg activist, Andries Tatane in 2012, during a similar service delivery protest relating to water shortages.
In the Tatane Report, the SAHRC found that the SAPS used a degree of force that was disproportionate; that members of the SAPS were not properly equipped and trained to quell the riot and failed to devise a plan; and that the SAPS failed to ensure that adequate numbers of police officials were deployed.
The SAHRC recommended, among others, that the SAPS improve training of police officers in managing gatherings to ensure that future protests result in peaceful and non-violent outcome; that a training manual for the Public Riot Unit be developed. The SAHRC was willing to help the SAPS in this regard. It was also recommended that the SAPS actively engage in communication with communities where there are popular protests like in Mothutlung.
We believe that loss of life could have been avoided in Mothutlung had the SAPS moved with necessary speed to implement some of these recommendations.
It is also worth noting that a few weeks ago the SAHRC issued a report on the failure of the Madibeng Local Municipality, which also covers Mothutlung, to deliver water services to the people.
This follows a complaint received in March 2013 from residents of Klipgat C, who alleged that the community had been without a water supply for five weeks and the municipality failed to address the problem despite being made aware of it.
The SAHRC found that Madibeng Municipality failed in its duty to provide residents with their Constitutional right to have access to water and sanitation.
We recommended that the Municipality put interim measures in place, that should be linked to the long term provision of water.
Over the past few months the SAHRC has received, investigated and made shocking findings on many similar complaints countrywide relating to lack of access to water and sanitation.
These findings were made despite commitments by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in The Presidency to develop a proactive strategy to effectively deal with water and sanitation throughout the country. The DPME’s commitment to address the water and sanitation challenges was made during the SAHRC public hearings. A report capturing the findings from these hearings will be released before the end of March 2014.
It is deeply concerning that we have many poor people across the country who are still deprived access to adequate water and sanitation.
The SAHRC hopes that the government of the North West Province, and the Madibeng Local Municipality in particular, will move quickly to resolve the issues presented by the community.
The SAHRC will follow up on the promises by the Madibeng Local Municipality that water will be restored by Thursday the 16th of January 2014 after repairs to the water pipes would have been completed.
Furthermore, that a long-term solution to the water shortage in the form of a reservoir would be completed by the end of January 2014.
Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission
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