Police will be better equipped to deal with protests after more than 900 Metro Police officers and members of the Tactical Response Team (TRT) were recently trained in crowd management.
The 946 officers graduated from a three-week course on the importance of crowd management.
Speaking at the passing-out parade for officers who attended the training, the then Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the country had experienced an increase in protest action and unrest.
“In some instances this has been accompanied by serious provocation, intimidation, public violence and even elements of criminality,” he noted.
To deal with such situations, officers were taught how the Constitution and the Bill of Rights impact on crowd management, laws related to crowd management, the importance of negotiation tactics, as well as strategy and tactics to be used in crowd management.
Minister Mthethwa said the Police Ministry wanted to ensure that training related to public order policing was constantly improving.
The training that the graduates received was aligned with the training of police working at Public Order Police units.
“Based on this training it is our sincere hope that both the Metro Police and TRT members who have attended this training will now be able to work side-by-side with Public Order Police members.”
The newly trained members will return to their units and will be able to be deployed as a support system to Public Order Police units when necessary.
“Our duty is to make South Africa a safe place for every person. This means that we must ensure our policing doesn’t contribute to tension during protests; and that policing does not generate the very violence it seeks to control during public protests,” the Minister added.
He added that SAPS and Metro Police were being trained at the same time to ensure that all law enforcement agencies work together during public order policing.
This training programme aims to provide additional training to SAPS and Metro Police in crowd control and is part of a broader goal of professionalising the public order policing.
“From now on all new SAPS members will undergo basic crowd management training as part of their basic training,” the Minister said.