HRC lambastes police for seizing 'loiterers'

Tebogo Monama

Tebogo Monama

The South African Human Rights Commission is disappointed that police arrested people for loitering in Johannesburg's city centre.

On Thursday, police arrested more than 100 people in the city for loitering.

Talking on a radio station on the same day, some of the arrested people claimed they were looking for work, while others said they were on their way to work. Some admitted to being beggars.

One caller said: "One of the challenges facing South Africa is unemployment, which forces people to look for jobs in the city centre".

In terms of city bylaws, those arrested would have to pay R300 or face jail.

The commission said the action of the police would put their relationship with the public under strain.

The commission's Lorraine Molepo said: "The concept of loitering will have to be carefully defined because people might be erroneously arrested."

Cosatu condemned the action and said that instead of arresting poor people, police and city officials should help them to find jobs.

But Captain Bhekisizwe Mavundla said police have a huge problem with loiterers.

"People are mugged around town and the community claims that police are not doing their job. When we arrest people, others still complain."

The commission and the police are willing to meet and discuss the issue.

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