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Revisit use of force, says Mthethwa

2011-10-04 15:29 Johannesburg - The severity of police force used when responding to protest action needed to be revisited, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Tuesday.

The "constant negative public scrutiny" of force used against protesters further strengthened the need for clarity, Mthethwa said in a speech prepared for delivery on Tuesday.

He was speaking at a public order policing (POP) conference in Midrand.

The minister said developments since 1994 required a focus on the transformation and accountability of the police, and adaptation to the needs of a democratic state.

"The type of police service required is one that is professional, upholds the Constitution and respects human dignity."

Restructuring of policy would require examining the police's approach in dealing with mass action protests.

"This must include, but not necessarily be limited to, the use of force in general, the use of physical and mechanical force, the use of deadly force, and the limitations that govern the use of force and deadly force."

Protest action has spiked in the last couple of months, according a local government data and intelligence service.

Municipal IQ, which measures service delivery protests in municipalities, said 56 major protests had been registered from January to August.

Most of the protests were in Gauteng (30%) followed by the Western Cape (15%), North West (12%), and Free State (11%).