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Media Centre  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU Mpumalanga condemns police brutality in Nelspruit Hospital

07 - 11 - 06

COSATU Mpumalanga condemns in the strongest possible terms the conduct of the SA Police Service yesterday, 6 November 2006, at Rob Ferreira hospital in Nelspruit. They fired rubber bullets and used excessive force to disperse a picket line of NEHAWU member s .Our members were demanding action be taken against the HoD of Health, who seems to be standing in the way of better, efficient and effective service delivery in the province. His anti-union stance on various occasions is very regrettable and cause for c oncern.

Nothing can justify such brutal force and over-reaction from the police of a democratic state against unarmed protesters. By the way, you could not miss the fact that white gun-toting members of SAPS were dealing with a black people rather then just dealin g with protestors. This begs the question: to what extend is our democratic state transformed, in particular the police service?

This is the same unit that shot at our members without provocation at the Matsamo Border gate on the occasion of the Swaziland solidarity on 12 April 2006.

The police action and attitude is still reminiscent of the ruthless tactics of the apartheid police, which should now be a thing of the past.

When this incident happened in April COSATU commented as follows It is clear that many in the SAPS are not trained to deal with protests of this kind, which require an ability to negotiate and reach agreement, rather than to engage in an immediate, aggres sive confrontation

We are also calling for a broader discussion between government, the SAPS and the labour movement to review the policies and guidelines under which the police operate during political and industrial demonstrations, in order to make sure that such kind of brutality by the police never happens again

These demands are as relevant as ever in the climate we find ourselves in order to avoid the same situation workers and their organizations find themselves in Zimbabwe.

COSATU also demands the release of the five arrested members, and compensation for those injured by the police action.

We will stop at nothing to realize the transformation of the police and rooting out the bad, racist element in the police service.

Issued by COSATU Mpumalanga. Contact : Norman Mokoena, Provincial Secretary @ 082 563 6969, or 013 656 0289/90