TUT student allegedly killed by a bullet from cop's deadly R5 rifle
Questions are being raised about why police officers who allegedly killed a Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) student during a protest were armed with the deadly R5 automatic rifles.
The Farlam Commission, which looked into the Marikana massacre, recommended the removal of the R5 from public order policing. The commission’s report was released in 2015.
But Katlego Monareng, a final-year legal assistance student, was killed outside TUT’s Soshanguve campus in August from a bullet fired from police R5 rifle.
As two officers who allegedly murdered Monareng during the students’ protest appeared in court this week, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) said police claimed they fired warning shots into the ground.
Captain Joseph Rapoo, 51, and Constable John Slender, 40, were each granted bail of R2 000.
Experts who appeared before the Farlam Commission were unanimous that automatic rifles like the R5 “have no place in Public Order Policing,” the report said.
The report concluded that the R5 should not be used during crowd management operations. It said: “... The use of R5 or any automatic rifle is clearly untenable, not only because of the Constitutional imperatives, but also because the effects seen at Marikana are just too disturbing and devastating for South Africa even to contemplate any recurrence.”
Reneilwe Serero, spokesperson for Police Minister Bheki Cele, said on Wednesday that it was important to note that officers that responded to the students’ protest were not from the Public Order Policing (POP) unit.
“Note that in the Soshanguve incident, first respondents to the scene were station members and not POP,” she told The Star. “As per the Marikana report, members of POPs now carry what is suited for the situation at hand, not an R5 rifle.”
But Murray Hunter, campaign organiser on securitisation at Right2Know, said it was irrelevant that Rapoo and Slender were not from the POP unit.
“The bigger picture is that if the Ipid report is correct, high-powered rifles have been used in a crowd management situation,” Hunter said.
“From the information that’s available, it’s clear this was not a life and death situation. They fired rifles into the ground and someone was left dead.
“It’s so painful that six years after Marikana, we’re still having this conversation. It’s completely inexcusable.
“It’s right the officers who are alleged to have been involved are now facing a criminal case, but there needs to be a clear message from the Minister of Police and the National Commissioner that enough is enough.”