R2K files urgent appeal to picket outside arms commission

The Right2Know Campaign filed an urgent appeal in the high court in Pretoria on Wednesday after being refused permission to hold a picket outside the arms procurement commission in Pretoria.

Right2Know national spokesperson Murray Hunter said the organisation was refused permission by the Tshwane Metropolitan Police department (TMPD). It had been trying to secure permission to picket from the TMPD for about a month. 

The TMPD was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday night.

The arms procurement commission, chaired by Supreme Court of Appeal judge Willie Seriti, is holding public hearings at the Tshwane Metro Council Chambers in Pretoria. Former finance minister Trevor Manuel is giving evidence into how the R70-billion arms deal was financed.

“The Seriti arms procurement commission is hearing the evidence of senior politicians this week. The Right2Know Campaign believes that this presents an opportunity for former ministers Ronnie Kasrils, Mosiuoa Lekota and Manuel to give a full account of why the country committed to spend almost R70-billion on weapons in the late 1990s,” said Hunter.

Years of pressure
He said the commission was established after almost 15 years of pressure by civil society groups. 

“However, R2K is deeply concerned by attempts to limit civil society participation in this process,” Hunter said.

The latest example of this was the TMPD’s decision to deny the organisation permission to hold their picket, which was scheduled for Thursday.

Hunter said the police had offered several reasons for disallowing the protest, the latest of which was that there were two protests scheduled for June 12 and the police’s resources would be deployed there. Apparently, three units of metro police would be deployed to those protests.

“This follows a string of correspondence with the Tshwane Metro Police, who have shown every intention to prohibit the picket [including citing the draconian apartheid-era National Key Points Act] instead of facilitating it as they are required by law.

“The decision by the Tshwane Metro Police not to allow the protest is deeply concerning and R2K will continue to pursue legal means to ensure our democratic right to protest.”

The urgent appeal will be heard in the high court in Pretoria on Thursday morning.

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Sarah Evans
Sarah Evans

Sarah Evans interned at the Diamond Fields Advertiser in Kimberley for three years before completing an internship at the Mail & Guardian Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane). She went on to work as a Mail & Guardian news reporter with areas of interest including crime, law, governance and the nexus between business and politics. 

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