Johannesburg - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa called for calm in Brits, North West, on Tuesday, following the shooting of two protesters, allegedly by the police.
The public had the Constitutional right to protest and raise issues about which they were not content, Mthethwa said in a statement.
“These very rights do not imply that people must be violent, destroy property, attack police and intimidate others,” he said.
“However, as we have seen on many occasions, many protests have been accompanied by serious provocations, intimidations, violence and even elements of criminality.”
Residents of Mothutlung in Brits started protesting on Sunday afternoon about a water shortage.
Police were called to monitor them after they barricaded a road with burning tyres.
There was an altercation between protesters and the police, during which two protesters were shot dead.
Mthethwa said there was no culture of impunity within the police.
“We can assure the public that if any official is found guilty, they will face the consequences. For now, none of us should pre-empt or pre-judge the matter before it is concluded.”
Police Minister Makhotso Sotyu would be in Brits on Tuesday, accompanied by provincial commissioner Lt-General Zukiswa Mbombo, he said.
They would be briefed about the incident and would later visit the families of the deceased.
North West premier Thandi Modise also appealed for calm, and asked anyone with information to help the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) with its investigation.
She said Ipid spokesman Moses Dlamini had confirmed that a case of murder was being investigated, and that post mortems would be conducted on Tuesday
Modise said Madibeng Local Municipality mayor Poppy Magongwa was confident the water supply to the area would be restored within the next few days. She had said the ordered part had to be manufactured as it was not readily available.
Modise said it was unfortunate the shooting occurred on the eve of her meeting with the Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa, MECs, mayors, councillors and municipal managers about finding solutions to water provision, water losses, water resource management and beneficial use of water, which had been affected by the drought in the province.
The meeting was primarily aimed at ensuring everyone had access to water and that growth and development targets were met, she said. - Sapa