Pretoria - Security personnel pounced on a crowd of civic society group members belonging to the Turkey Solidarity Network (TSN) who were picketing outside the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria ahead of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to the mission.
"We were very peaceful, yet firmly picketing about Erdogan's dictatorial rule. Suddenly, security personnel emerged from the embassy and attacked us. I was kicked in the face, and I'm bleeding right now as you can see," said Majesty Mnyandu, interim chairperson of TSN.
"We were really perplexed at their behaviour. This is South Africa, a free nation. We will not be deterred, we are not leaving this place until Erdogan has seen our placards. We will be here until he arrives as has been scheduled."
Manyandu criticised members of the South African Police Service for "standing idle" while the activists were attacked.
"One would expect the police to protect citizens when they are under form of attack. We are being attacked here and the police are standing idle. What kind of policing is that? They should have protected us," said Manyandu.
Several TSN members were bleeding, while others were crying in pain.
In a statement released ahead of the picket on Thursday, the TSN said: "Turkey's two year-long state of emergency and new anti-terror laws set a backdrop for violations of human rights ... with academics, journalists, political activists and human rights defenders among those targeted."
The civic group said more than 250 000 workers, including judges, teachers and government workers have lost their jobs, and others have been detained, suspended or placed under investigation by Erdogan's regime.
"Families are being separated where mothers and young children are jailed or left to fend for themselves," said the TSN statement.
Officials from the Turkish embassy were not readily available to comment.
African News Agency (ANA)