998 15.05.2012 Democratic Alliance (DA) member is rushed to a place of safety after being hit with a stone during a clash with Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) members. Picture:Itumeleng English

The violence on Tuesday at a DA march to Cosatu House could have been avoided if the police were well trained to deal with crowd control.

And so could the death of Ficksburg resident Andries Tatane, who was allegedly killed by the police in April last year. This is the view of academic and critic Dr Mamphela Ramphele.

“We have a fundamental problem of an undertrained police service that, when confronted with the situation, do not know how to react,” said Ramphele, who is also a member of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.

“The police knew that there was a protest expected, but they sent a pitiful number of police (officers). We don’t have basic training in disaster management and crowd control. That is why Tatane was killed,” she said at a media conference at the Nelson Mandela Foundation offices in Joburg on Wednesday.

Flanked by the council’s chairman, Sipho Pityana, Ramphele said Tuesday’s violent behaviour was akin to citizens lacking in the understanding of their constitution. ”There can’t be no-go zones. Cosatu House is a public space, and to say then that you can’t go (is unacceptable)… How does a man behave in that way (throw stones) without any hint of shame…? They violated the democracy that they fought for.”

The violence also demonstrated a widespread political intolerance, and more specifically, a deep-seated hatred for non-liberation political parties. “The culture of liberation movement political parties and the culture of constitutional democracy… are different. They (protesters) haven’t made that shift. We have these heroic figures and personalised politics, which is a problem. Part of the problem is (not) accepting opposition parties because they don’t belong to the liberation…”

Ramphele added that the current voting system entrenched political parties and marginalised citizens.

[email protected]

The Star