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By McKeed Kotlolo and Anna Majavu | Aug 28, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

CABINET says it will take harsh new measures against organisers of protests that turn violent.

CABINET says it will take harsh new measures against organisers of protests that turn violent.

"The time is approaching when the state cannot be expected to stand by while the laws of the land are being trampled on, property is destroyed and rights of law- abiding citizens are being infringed on in the name of protesting," government spokesperson Themba Maseko said at a post-cabinet press briefing in parliament yesterday.

This was in reaction to the military strike that turned violent this week. Police opened fire on soldiers at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

They used birdshot, rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the soldiers who forced their way into the Union Buildings grounds.

"All those who were involved in this unruly behaviour must expect no sympathy from the state, since the law will take its course," Maseko said .

But Cosatu says the police are guilty of "reckless reaction" to union protests, and to Wednesday's South African National Defence Union protest.

The federation says cabinet ministers must "find better ways for the police to manage demonstrations, by working with the organisers to find peaceful ways to control marches and rallies".

Yesterday Sandu reacted with anger at the statement by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Lindiwe Sisulu, who said saying she did not recognise the union.

Sandu chief negotiator Jeff Dubazana said: "The minister no longer understands herself. On Tuesday she practically begged us to return to the Military Bargaining Council to continue with salary negotiations. Now she goes and says she does not recognise us. How do you call people to the MBC when you do not recognise them?"

About Wednesday's incident, he said Sandu's national executive committee would meet today to outline the planned rolling mass action after Wednesday's police actions.

He said of the about 15 injured soldiers six were treated at 1-Military Hospital.

They were all under military police guard because the SANDF intended charging them, said Dubazana.

The union's national organiser Charlton Boer said they were also going to discuss threats to suspend the more than 1000 soldiers who participated in the strike.


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