Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday called for calm in Brits, North West, on Tuesday, following the shooting of two protesters, allegedly by the police.
The public had the cConstitutional right to protest and raise issues about which they were not content, Mthethwa said in a statement.
"These very rights do not imply that people must be violent, destroy property, attack police and intimidate others," he said. "However, as we have seen on many occasions, many protests have been accompanied by serious provocations, intimidations, violence and even elements of criminality."
Residents of Mothotlung in Brits started protesting on Sunday afternoon about a water shortage. Police were called to monitor them after they barricaded a road with burning tyres. There was allegedly an altercation between protesters and the police, during which two people were shot dead.
Mthethwa on Tuesday said there was no culture of impunity within the police.
"We can assure the public that if any official is found guilty, they will face the consequences. For now, none of us should pre-empt or pre-judge the matter before it is concluded."
Murder case opened
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) would investigate the deaths of the two protesters, IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini said on Tuesday, adding that two others who were injured were taken to hospital.
"The exact circumstances are being investigated. A murder docket has been opened," he said.
A postmortem examination of the two bodies would be conducted on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Deputy Police Minister Makhotso Sotyu would be in Brits on Tuesday, accompanied by provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Zukiswa Mbombo, Mthethwa said. They would be briefed about the incident and would later visit the families of the deceased.
North West Premier Thandi Modise also appealed for calm on Tuesday, saying Madibeng Local Municipality mayor Poppy Magongwa was confident the water supply to the area would be restored within the next few days. She said the ordered part to fix the broken pipe had to be manufactured.
Modise also said that it was unfortunate the shooting occurred on the eve of her meeting with the Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, MECs, mayors, councillors and municipal managers about finding solutions to water provision, water losses, water resource management and beneficial use of water, which had been affected by the drought in the province. The meeting was primarily aimed at ensuring everyone had access to water and that growth and development targets were met, she said.
She asked anyone with information to help the IPID with its investigation. – Sapa