Pretoria — Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has called on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to speed up the investigation into the deaths in the Brits protests.
This comes after another person died in Mothutlung, near Brits, after being allegedly pushed from a moving police nyala. The man was arrested along with others for public violence in the area during a protest over water shortages.
The death brings the total number of people who have died during the recent violent protests to three. Mthethwa has offered condolences to the family of the deceased, and tasked the IPID to expedite and broaden their investigation to include this latest incident.
"As a matter of urgency, IPID must get in touch with those members who are willing to give accounts of what they witnessed. We must get answers around the circumstances under which the three community members died," said Mthethwa.
Yesterday, Mthethwa and other government officials visited Mothutlung, where he directly interacted with the police management to get a sense of what led to clashes that unfortunately resulted in the loss of lives. During the interactions, the community members gave their versions of what transpired. According to Mthethwa, it was clear that the issues were about the lack of water supply.
Prior to these incidents, there were no hostile incidents between the community and police. "We are aware of the community's anger at this point in time and shall ensure that we mend these broken relations. In fact, almost on a weekly basis we are out of office, interacting with communities. "We do so not because there are problems, but as part of ensuring that we entrench this community policing philosophy," said the minister.
Mthethwa said should IPID identify any police officials as suspects, the South African Police Service will immediately institute internal disciplinary processes, including possible suspensions of those implicated.