Cops and soldiers had no training on lockdown regulations, which explains a lot, says DA

The police commissioner has sent out fresh, detailed guidelines on how SAPS and municipal police must conduct themselves after complaints of torture, excessive force, inhuman treatment and punishment have come to the fore during the Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The party says this clearly indicates why law enforcement agencies are so often interpreting and implementing regulations incorrectly.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said that the members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) did not receive training for implementing lockdown regulations.

DA Gauteng MPL Michael Shackleton said the party was not surprised to learn that the SAPS, metropolitan police and SANDF received no relevant training.

“This was revealed by the Gauteng community safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko, in an oral reply to the DA’s questions during a virtual sitting of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

“This clearly explains why the police are always flip-flopping in terms of implementing the lockdown regulations, which has resulted in the unlawful arrests of innocent law-abiding citizens,” Shackleton said.

He said the Mazibuko told the provincial legislature that 38,698 people had been arrested to date for violating the lockdown regulations in Gauteng and only 25,279 cases had been taken to court. Of these cases, 1,387 cases were postponed due to the lockdown regulations, Mazibuko said.

“The DA is concerned that the law enforcement agencies have not received any training in implementing the lockdown regulations, which is why there is confusion and lack of clarity on what people can and can’t be arrested and detained for during the lockdown.

“This clearly indicates that law enforcement agencies are interpreting and implementing these regulations incorrectly.”

The DA MPL said the party called on both Mazibuko and Gauteng SAPS provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela to ensure that law enforcement agencies were provided with training on how to implement the lockdown regulations so that they could differentiate between what is an offence and what is not an offence in terms of failing to comply with the lockdown regulations.

“In so doing, it will protect our people from being unlawfully harassed and arrested by the police.”

Police spokesperson, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said, however, that SAPS members were trained on high visibility patrols, roadblocks and the searching of vehicles and premises, all of which are conducted to ensure that there was compliance with lockdown regulations.

“The approach to this pandemic is a multidisciplinary integrated approach. The SAPS together with with the various metros and traffic departments as well as the SANDF are responsible to ensure that there is compliance,” Naidoo said, adding that the SAPS were assisted “by other security forces” in patrols, roadblocks and search operations.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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