Spotlight: Better policing of public protests


Public confidence in the South African Police Service (SAPS) has deteriorated in recent years. The 2012 Marikana massacre that led to the shooting of 112 striking mineworkers, 34 of whom died, still haunts the police nearly four years later.

‘The Marikana Commission of Inquiry’s report in July 2015 revealed the failings of the SAPS’ leaders at the time and the flaws in the police’s organisational culture’, says Gareth Newham, head of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Governance, Crime and Justice division. ‘The commission found that SAPS leadership during and after Marikana was characterised by a lack of transparency, honesty and accountability. Consequently, there is a desperate need for an overhaul’.

Fortunately, there is commitment to improving policing and implementing the Marikana Commission’s recommendations. The Minister of Police has established a panel of experts to revise public order policing. ‘As a member of the panel, the ISS has a unique opportunity to directly engage those responsible for implementing policy’, says Newham. Together with providing sound research and policy advice, this is a key objective of the ISS’ new strategy.

ISS is able to use its widely-recognised expertise to help tackle challenges facing policing

Inclusion in the panel shows that the ISS is able to use its widely-recognised expertise to help tackle challenges facing policing in South Africa and to improve policing in future.

The panel will be chaired by retired Judge David Ntshangase and includes senior police officers as well as independent international and local experts with experience in policing matters. Both police unions will also be represented.

Local experts include Gareth Newham from the ISS, independent researcher David Bruce, Themba Masuku, research manager at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, independent consultants Adele Kirsten and Dr Liza Groble, and Eldred de Klerk from the Africa Centre for Security and Intelligence Practice. International experts will be drawn from countries such as Russia, China, Brazil and Italy.

Over the course of 15 months, starting in May 2016, the panel will develop recommendations on public order policing, policing methods and training techniques, as well as international best practice. These recommendations will be handed to a police transformation task team, chaired by the deputy minister of police. The task team is responsible for implementing the recommendations to help create a more professional police service.

For more information contact: 

Gareth Newham, ISS, [email protected], +27 82 887 1557

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