Ten years after the Marikana massacre, only two recommendations have been implemented when it comes to Public Order Policing. This is according to David Bruce, a security analyst who served on the panel of experts to look into how police manage crowds.
The recommendations flowed from the Farlam Commission which probed the tragedy. A decade later, there are only two major changes and no legislative improvements to how police manage crowds.
“There are two major changes. Before Marikana there was a trend towards using what is called the tactical units in crowd management operations. These are the units that are armed with R5 automatic rifles that were responsible for most of the deaths at Marikana. After Marikana police largely stopped using these units in POP (Public Order Policing), sometimes they are deployed in support roles but not equipped with R5. There was one incident where a Tshwane university student died after being shot with an R5 rifle by a SAPS member during a protest, it seems to be an exception. The member was convicted of murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison,” explains an independent researcher specialising in policing and a member of the panel, David Bruce.
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The panel was made up of local and international police experts, members of the SAPS and police union representatives.
Bruce says there has been very little engagement with the report from the government’s side.
”Their report was finalised in 2018, and only released in March 2021. Some recommendations effected in the amended draft bill in the Police Service Act that was published in 2020, seem it will be brought before Parliament sometime this year. Besides these draft legal provisions, there is no significant engagement with the panel report, by the government.”
According to the Civilian Secretariat for Police, a body that advises the police minister and develops departmental policy, some of the panel recommendations were implemented.
The SABC did reach out to the SAPS for comment, but no responses were provided.