Three people have been arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property following the two-day protest by municipal workers at Tshwane House last month.
In a statement, police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the three suspects – a 39-year-old woman and two men, aged 39 and 44 – were arrested on Tuesday following an investigation.
On 21 July, Public Order Police (POP) were deployed to the head offices of the City of Tshwane in the CBD to monitor the protests, which led to the building being damaged while streets were blockaded, strewn with litter and waste-bins set alight.
“On both days of the protest, POP members responded to sporadic incidents of vandalism and, in some instances, members patrolling on foot had to shut down municipal fire hydrants that had been opened and purposely left running, allegedly by the protesters,” Peters said.
Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela said police would not hesitate to arrest anyone who broke the law during protests of any nature.
“Lawlessness can never have a justifiable basis. We must also emphasise the illegality of any gathering during the Covid-19 lockdown if not for purposes of a funeral service,” Mawela said.
“Convenors of such illegal gatherings will be charged for contravention of the Covid-19 Disaster Management Lockdown Regulations,” Mawela further warned.
It was previously reported that Tshwane House was damaged during a protest by South African Municipal Workers’ Union (Samwu) members.
Tshwane head administrator Mpho Nawa said the special Local Labour Forum (LLF) had held a meeting with administrators and representatives of Samwu and the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) to decide on the implementation of the 6.25% annual wage increase and the benchmarking collective agreement.
A decision on the matter was not taken, as Samwu leadership allegedly walked out of the meeting, leading to a lack of quorum and causing it to collapse.
“As we continue with our negotiations with union leadership, we call upon all employees to have a full appreciation of the financial challenges the City finds itself in. As administrators, we want to see our employees happy, employed and avoid future retrenchments,” Nawa said.
“Thus, our position to honour a 6.25% wage increment remains on the table and we have not reneged on this commitment that we have communicated to union leadership.”
The three suspects are expected to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.