EFF being investigated over supporters' attack on police‚ looting
Looting of booze‚ food and clothing stores as well as an attack on a policeman who had to undergo surgery for serious facial injuries may see the Economic Freedom Fighters have to answer to criminal charges for the actions of their supporters during Wednesday’s protest in Pretoria.
“It is our contention that convenors of gatherings must be accountable for the actions of their supporters and the SAPS is investigating yesterday’s illegal gathering‚ the conduct of the crowd and alleged incitement of leaders‚” Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane‚ Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service‚ said on Thursday.
“SAPS management and surely all law-abiding citizens are outraged by the behaviour exhibited by certain elements in the streets of Pretoria yesterday‚ which can only be described as outright hooliganism.”
He said 28 arrests were made and more arrests in relation to various charges such as malicious damage to property‚ public violence‚ burglary and assault “are likely‚ as 35 cases have been registered and are under investigation“.
Lt-Gen Phahlane said law enforcement officers were deployed in and around the Tshwane Central Business District from 6pm on Tuesday‚ to 10pm on Wednesday‚ to monitor and police a night vigil‚ a gathering and marches relating to the so-called State Capture Report and Save SA campaign. The Democratic Alliance and Save SA gatherings were peaceful.
“Unfortunately the third event‚ which included a night vigil and a march by Economic Freedom Front (EFF) supporters‚ was in many instances marred by incidents of damage to property‚ looting‚ public violence‚ intimidation and attacks on the police.”
“From early on Wednesday morning‚ before 06:00‚ sporadic incidents of violence and criminality occurred which included‚ inter alia‚ stones being thrown at vehicles and windows of premises‚ the looting of stores (most notably food and liquor outlets but including clothing and sportswear stores as well as an hotel)‚ barricading of roads‚ the disruption of traffic and physical attacks on police members on duty.
“One member‚ a captain‚ was seriously injured at about 15:30 yesterday next to the Union Buildings when he was attacked in a police vehicle and hit in the face so violently with a glass bottle that the bottle shattered. He underwent surgery last night after sustaining several deep cuts to his facial area which resulted in his nose being half-severed and the cortex of his eye being damaged. He is recovering in hospital and our thoughts are with him and his family.
“We know of at least one other officer‚ also a captain‚ having sustained an injury to his leg from being stoned and he was treated at a nearby clinic. We also wish him a speedy recovery.
“These unfortunate incidents‚ which resulted in members of the service being injured‚ are regrettable and must be condemned by all of us.”
The police boss commended his team as well as other law enforcement agencies “for containing the situation under extreme provocation and difficult conditions‚ while still maintaining day-to-day policing in all Pretoria clusters“.
“The police’s resources‚ already deployed for long hours across the province in terms of the #FeesMustFall protest actions for over a month‚ were severely stretched.
“The citizens of Pretoria‚ particularly those working or living in the CBD‚ Sunnyside and Arcadia areas‚ were inconvenienced and alarmed by the unruly conduct of the gathering.
“...We commend the people of Tshwane for having worked well with law enforcement during this period. The SAPS strongly disapproves of the acts of criminality which characterised a part of the protest action of yesterday. Those that have been arrested will be processed through the criminal justice system. The South African Police Service will continue to contribute towards the creation of a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa.”