Pretoria — While protest action continues on the streets of South Africa, police have urged march organisers to ensure that protesters maintain the spirit of orderliness that has characterised the majority of proceedings throughout the day.
"We are aware that people are still on the streets and we call upon organisers to ensure that protesters get home safe, not involve themselves in violent activities and cause damage to property," the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, said in a statement on Friday.
Several civil society organisations and political parties such as Save SA, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), are taking part in numerous demonstrations in major cities including Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg, eThekwini and Mbombela today. They are demanding that President Jacob Zuma step down following his Cabinet reshuffle last week.
Minister Mbalula said the Department of Police respects and recognises the right of citizens to embark on protest action, as enshrined in section 17 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of South Africa, which states that "everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions".
"In upholding this right, government urged those who were going to participate in protest actions on Friday, 7 April 2017 to exercise their rights responsibly, observe the laws of the country and not to cause damage to property.
"Government further pleaded with the organisers and leaders of the protest action to refrain from making statements that have a potential of inciting violence and damage to property and harm to South African citizens.
"Through the Acting National Commissioner of Police, we reassured South Africans that our police men and women possess the will and capacity to maintain law and order. South Africans were made aware to the fact that section 9 of the Regulation of Gatherings Act requires SAPS members to pursue all avenues to avoid the use of excessive force and that they would maintain this at all times across the country.
"We would like to commend members of the South African Police Service for maintaining law and order throughout the country in all protest areas. SAPS maintained visible presence during these protests. Through SAPS, government is responsible for ensuring that citizens are protected and secured at all times. We believe that our law enforcement fulfilled that task," said Minister Mbalula.