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SAHRC, SAPS pledge to work together in matters of policing and human rights

23 February 2014

The South African Human Rights Commission held a meeting on Friday with the National Police Commissioner of the South African Police Services, Riah Phiyega, police top management, and experts in policing and human rights matters to discuss particular areas of human rights concerns in relation to the work of the police.

The SAHRC considers this meeting as valuable in establishing a long term process to address the country's pressing issues on the use of force by police, police killings, the causes of public protests, the violence of public protests.

We recognize that we have to step out of our trenches and meet each other around the negotiating table.

The meeting, which formed part of the SAHRC’s Section 5 meetings, comes at the backdrop of recent alleged incidents of police brutality and the disregard of the civil and political rights reported during the service delivery protests in the country.

The SAPS has been in the public eye on matters that are raising serious human rights concerns, including the deaths of protesters both in the street and in police custody. These include the reported incidents in areas such as Mothutlung in Brits, Relela in Kgapane Limpopo and Bekkersdal in Gauteng.

The meeting noted that more often the police are drawn into conflicts as tail-end interveners. It was noted that it is not SAPS’ duty to provide clean water, sanitation, roads and other services.

The SAHRC acknowledged that the police are often challenged to walk the tightrope when dealing with public protests on one hand, and everyday needs of policing on the other. The SAHRC deplores the loss of life during protests, and is equally seriously concerned with the high levels of violence at some of the protests

The SAHRC is encouraged by the assurance by the SAPS of a continuous, much more intense process of engagement between the SAPS and the SAHRC.
For this reason, the two parties agreed to meet again in March to engage further on policing and human rights issues, and to tackle challenges that have been very well articulated. Both see this engagement as a long term process with no quick fixes.


Issued by the SA Human Rights Commission

Isaac Mangena

Head: Communications


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