Pretoria: Police in Limpopo have warned that they will act against any illegal gatherings and acts of violence in Malamulele.
SAPS Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Fannie Masemola says police have the capacity to squash any attempts by the Malamulele residents to gather illegally.
The police have called on the community to play a crucial role in this regard to avert any potential tensions and clashes. The warning comes as the community is planning an illegal gathering later today.
On Tuesday, 45 people were arrested after the residents of Malamulele, near Giyani, barricaded streets and set shops and some government offices alight. They were protesting the closure of applications for municipal boundaries following their application to the MDB last year. Residents are demanding their own municipality.
Violence in the area has been accompanied by serious provocations, intimidations, public violence and even elements of criminality.
“We have been monitoring the situation and what we have been observing is pure criminality. Acts of violent destruction and intimidation of innocent people cannot be justified as public protests and that is why we shall act harshly against lawlessness,” said Masemola.
He said although police recognise the democratic rights of any person to express their grievances — those rights do not imply that those who do not wish to participate in a strike must be intimidated, beaten and properties destroyed.
“The police have a responsibility to police public protests, gatherings and events within the framework of the law. The Gatherings Act confers considerable responsibilities on organisers to ensure that such events are carried out in an orderly and peaceful manner. Any contravention of this will result in police taking drastic steps,” said Masemola.
The procedure entails a process where the applicant will give notice for a gathering to local authorities and subsequent section 4 (meeting) in terms of the Gatherings Act to be held between, police organisers and local authority.
Masemola has called upon the communities as well as law abiding citizens of Malamulele and surroundings areas to behave in a responsible and accountable manner.
They should stay away from illegal and unlawful activities and gatherings that provokes violence and destruction of their property or neighbours property.
Meanwhile, 65 suspects who were arrested on Tuesday for public violence and possession of stolen items in Malamulele were remanded in custody when they appeared before the Malamulele Magistrate’s Court. Police investigations continue.