The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) has condemned police for arresting Moutse protest leader, Seun Mokgotsi.
Mokgotsi was arrested for allegedly inciting violence and obstructing police when he addressed a group of school children during an imbizo by the Limpopo MEC for roads and transport, Justice Pitso, last Thursday.
Police accused Mokgotsi of inciting children to join the protest and to snub Pitso. Mokgotsi and some residents boycotted the imbizo and continued to protest against the area's incorporation into Limpopo from Mpumalanga.
Mokgotsi appeared in court on Wednesday after spending a week in custody. He was released on R1000 bail. He will appear in court again on July 23.
Jane Duncan, executive director of the FXI, said the action was an attempt to silence the voices of ordinary people who used the protest to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression.
"The denial of free expression rights, arrests and victimisation taking place in Moutse and Khutsong communities are unjustifiable in the light of the constitution," said Duncan.
She said the constitution guarantees people the rightto freely express themselves and to protest, which is "the main form of expression for poor people".
Duncan said police deliberately suppress this form of expression by misusing the Regulation of Gathering Act, by imposing unconstitutional conditions.