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Pretoria - During the festive season 704 people were arrested for public violence, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Tuesday.
“We respect the right of citizens to protest as that is a constitutionally enshrined right and we have no intention to tamper with these rights,” he said.
“We, however, firmly oppose any violent destruction of property, intimidation and murder of innocent people whilst all these criminal acts are being disguised and justified as public protests.”
Mthethwa was speaking in Pretoria at the release of crime statistics for the festive season.
He said police would deal with any lawlessness to ensure they defended law-abiding citizens.
The festive season campaign started on October 15 and would officially end January 31. About 76 700 people were arrested in Gauteng during the festive season.
Around 51 191 fines were issued during this period for various offences from traffic violations to illegally operating liquor outlets, he said.
“We remain very concerned about the lack of adherence to the rules of the road which... have resulted in fatalities and loss of lives,” Mthethwa said.
“We arrested 2751 suspects for driving under the influence, which is exceptionally high. To date we have confiscated 451 stolen vehicles nationally.”
On Thursday, Transport Minister Dikobe Ben Martins said it was estimated that around 1465 people lost their lives in road accidents during the season. - Sapa