Ramaphosa says security forces are to protect citizens, infrastructure during shutdown

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Published Mar 19, 2023


President Cyril Ramaphosa has insisted that the deployment of the security forces including the army in the run-up to the protest on Monday was to protect lives and critical infrastructure.

He said it must be clear that the right to protest was enshrined in the Constitution, but that right was not absolute.

Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said the deployment of the police and the army was to ensure that no harm was caused during the march by the EFF.

He said Ramaphosa had also noted threats made to businesses, airports and other buildings to be closed, but the government had a responsibility to those who did not want to be part of the march.

Magwenya said the state could not fold its arms while threats were made against citizens.

The government has already deployed the army in various parts of the country before the shutdown.

“The president has stated that as much as the right to protest is guaranteed and protected under our Constitution, equally that right is not absolute and that right is not a ticket to any form of anarchy or violence or disrupting or interrupting other people’s rights to go on with their lives. The security presence is part of a broader exercise of ensuring that critical infrastructure, as well as key government installations, are protected in the face of threats that have been continuously made in the build-up to (Monday),” said Magwenya.

He said the government had a duty to prevent what happened in July 2021.

The recommendations of the Sandy Africa panel report into the riots have been implemented, said Magwenya.

Part of the recommendations was the hiring of more officers into the ranks of Public Order Policing, to deal with riots.

The SAPS hired 10 000 police officers this year.

Ramaphosa announced in the State of the Nation Address that another group of 10 000 officers would be employed in the current financial year.

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