FES court application will force govt to respond to abuses by police, SANDF
"We have made it clear that the task of our security personnel is to support, reassure and comfort our people, and to ensure peace and order is maintained. They know that they must act within the law at all times and that they must not cause harm to any of our people."
These were the words of President Cyril Ramaphosa during his latest Covid-19 update, apparently referencing the disturbing footage that's emerged of incidents of brutality during the enforcement of shutdown regulations.
Now a court application by civil organisation Fair and Equitable Society (FES) aims to reinforce the fact that South Africans continue to have constitutional rights during the 21-day lockdown, by asking for an order that states police and defence force personnel have violated those rights.
Legal journalist Karyn Maughan confirms that papers were formally filed on Wednesday and gives an update.
This is in the last few minutes - the president and the police minister are expecting to file some kind of response, interestingly being represented by Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, often referred to as Jacob Zuma's advocate.Karyn Maughan, Legal journalist
I don't know at this stage whether they're going to oppose it, but we are expecting papers to be filed in the next few hours in response to this case.Karyn Maughan, Legal journalist
I think the most important thing here is that this society is saying 'we want a declaration that shutdown regulations do not override the provisions of the Constitution, that people still have a right to be treated in a dignified and humane fashion'.Karyn Maughan, Legal journalist
They're also saying that we maybe need to look at other enforcement agents being put into these communities instead of a security-intensive-almost kind of criminal undertone that's been adopted.Karyn Maughan, Legal journalist
Maughan says there's a risk that citizens will eventually revolt in the face of the police brutality currently being witnessed.
She also elaborates on John's point that there has been no outright condemnation by government of excessive force employed in a number of incidents so far.
We come from the era of 'shoot to kill'... It's just very disturbing that the police and the defence force or some of their members seem to regard members of the public as their enemy, rather than the virus itself.Karyn Maughan, Legal journalist
Listen to the complete conversation below:
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