/ 13 February 2009

Police action at TUT being investigated

An investigation into police action during a protest at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) in Pretoria is under way, Gauteng minister for community safety, Firoz Cachalia, said on Friday.

”Visuals [where a disabled student and a journalist were apparently shot at by police at the Tshwane University of Technology] show clear evidence of police officers involved in unlawful assault of protesters,” said Cachalia.

He said while he appreciated the difficult situation that officers often found themselves in during tense and volatile protests, it was the responsibility of the police to uphold the rule of law and ensure public safety.

”Most importantly the police need to ensure that the rights of peaceful protesters are respected,” said Cachalia.

He said the matter had been discussed with the provincial commissioner and investigations were already under way.

”In a democratic society we cannot allow and will not tolerate gratuitous violence by the police who have the responsibility to enforce law and observe Constitution-protected freedoms,” Cachalia said.

Five people, including a Pretoria News journalist, were injured during a stand-off with police on Wednesday at the university’s Pretoria campus.

Protestors had thrown stones at police who responded by firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

Negotiations between TUT management and workers embroiled in the wage-related dispute were expected to resume on Friday. — Sapa