Johannesburg - Debates on the role of the police in protests have been highlighted by the shooting at Lonmin's Marikana mine last year, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Thursday.
“On one hand you (police) want to uphold the rule of law, and on the other hand there are serious issues of responsibility,” he said at a New Age breakfast briefing in Johannesburg.
“We want to see SAPS (the SA Police Service) dealing with these matters in a humane fashion.”
He questioned whether it was correct for people to arm themselves during protests.
“The Constitution allows everyone to express himself or herself, but it also disallows anyone from carrying weapons publicly,” Mthethwa said.
“We have been trying to tone down the maximum force, where you would have seen... water cannons and so on. (However)... force would be used... where it is needed. We must get that clear.”
National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said during the briefing that a video of the shootout had been broadcast on British television because the clip had been made available to the Farlam commission.
“Because we voluntarily submitted it (the clip) to the commission, it is discovered evidence,” she said.
“Any member in that commission has it. So, if it is leaked out or used otherwise there isn't much (we can do).”
The commission, which is headed by retired judge Ian Farlam, is probing the deaths of 44 people at the mine.
On August 16, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were wounded when police opened fire while trying to disperse a group gathered on a hill near the mine.
In the preceding week, 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, were hacked to death.
The clip was broadcast on Britain's Channel 4 News on Sunday.
It shows police keeping their guns trained on two men crawling through a field.
It also shows a tactical response team officer calling for restraint while a miner is on the move.
“The guy is there running. Wait. Don't shoot him, don't shoot him,” he shouts. However, gunshots are heard and the camera moves over the lifeless body of a man.
Another officer is quoted with subtitles: “That motherf****r. I shot him at least 10 times.” - Sapa