No matter which way you look at it; it is wrong. When a group of unemployed youth gather to raise alarm about their plight and then you worsen their situation by beating them up, then such amounts to reckless abuse of force and power. These youth were harmless. None, we believe, brought weapons of war to the march. It was peaceful. All they had were placards highlighting their plight as the unemployed. The instruction given to the police to thrash their fellow countrymen for raising alarm about their unfortunate situation remains one of the most heartless orders of our time. It brings to question the nature and preparedness of our force to mitigate situations of the kind they faced from these youth. Peaceful marches whether granted permission or not are peaceful. They did not disturb the peace. These youth stood to add value to the Members of Parliament’s debates at the only place they felt they could be better heard and not assaulted as it happened. This was an opportunity for MPs to gracefully leave their air-conditioned chamber and with humility offer this group an audience.
It would have helped the leader of the House Vice President Mokgweetsi Masisi to have led his MPs out to listen to the concerns of their voters. Just listening and offering them advice on a better platform to use to air their concerns could have gone a long way in saving the situation from degenerating into a farce the police created. MPs should know that people that come to Parliament are their voters and potential ones. They come there bringing different concerns and come in various forms and styles. Parliament and the Speaker should do the honourable thing and apologise that her guests were brutalised and that she did not do anything about that when it happened. She should apologise to the #unemployment movement and advise them on a better platform and time in which they can come back. Parliament sits not only to make laws but to advance and create opportunities for the people the MPs represent. Allowing the police to develop a habit of unleashing their force on innocent citizens at the earliest excuse is a recipe for disaster.
This is why it is regrettable that the Minister responsible could even attempt to justify police brutality. Allowed and encouraged to unleash their wrath and force with ease, the police would throw away caution even when they should exercise it. This ultimately will result with increased cases of extrajudicial extremes, including killings which the police and related security agencies are often accused of. It leads to the breakdown of law and order. The police’s work is to arrest suspected offenders and take them before courts of law for justice to take its course. Letting them and encouraging them to whip and impose their brutality at suspects is illegal, unlawful and extremely wrong. This, we expect, the Government to oppose and in fact take action against those in the force who put brutality ahead of decent engagement and peaceful arrest. Instead of brutalising the youth who marched on Monday, they should have – as they later did – arrested, detained them and taken them to court. The Minister responsible for the police and the Police Commissioner himself should look at the excesses of his force where they arise and seek corrective measures. If at all they need training on ways to handle such situation, then they must be trained. Police brutality in all its forms is unacceptable!