Cape Town - Police are ready for any eventuality and do not require the assistance of the SA National Defence Force in containing strikes which are forecast for Western Cape farms next week.
This was the message delivered on Thursday by the provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer.
On Wednesday, Premier Helen Zille called for the army to be deployed to assist police in a “peacekeeping” capacity in anticipation of next week’s strike.
Without going into operational details, Lamoer said on Thursday that the public order policing unit was on standby and would be deployed at points in the Cape Winelands on Sunday.
“Air support, to move members to areas where they are most needed, is also on standby,” he said.
“Intelligence structures are all working on ground to gather inform to assist us in planning.
“We have also deployed some of our most senior commanders to take charge, including deputy provincial commissioners.”
As part of an integrated approach, fire and rescue services, disaster management and traffic services have all been put on standby.
“From our side we will ensure the safety of everybody and that the law is adhered to,” said Lamoer.
“We want to make an appeal to all workers, farmers and unions that whatever they do, they do so within the law.”
Lamoer identified De Doorns and Wolseley as areas of concern.
The strikes started in De Doorns three weeks ago and spread to other areas in the region the following week. In Wolseley, riots broke out after police allegedly shot and killed a farm worker, Michael Daniels.
Daniels’s death is the subject of an inquiry by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
Lamoer would not be drawn on details of that investigation, but expanded on the protocol for the use of deadly force by police.
“Our members are encouraged to use minimum force,” he said.
“This changes when their lives are endangered. Then the situation needs to be assessed in terms of justifying [the use of other levels of force].”
When discussing the possibility of calling for the army to be deployed to the area, Lamoer said that the police were sufficiently resourced to manage the situation.
“From my side, I will not call for the army,” he said.
“We recognise the right of the individuals to strike, however strike action needs to be within the parameters of the law.
“Those who transgress the law will be charged and they will be prosecuted.”