A basic point of departure for public order policing in a democracy is that citizens have the right to assemble and protest peacefully – with due regard to the rights of others – in an environment that is safe and secure for the protesters, authorities and passers-by. Indeed, the preamble to South Africa's Regulation of Gatherings Act, 205 of 1993, the law currently governing protests, says as much.
In South Africa, as much as anywhere else, protests have become increasingly violent and adversarial in recent years. Whether trade unionists protesting in support of their demands on the streets of Johannesburg, or anti-globalisation demonstrators decrying the latest G20 meeting, attacks on public order forces and damage to property have become common.
Mthethwa will be followed by Brigadier “Happy” Schutte, current operational head of the South African Police Service's Crime Combating Unit Gauteng, which is tasked with public order policing (POP) in the nation' economic heartland. Schutte, who has some 20 years experience in dealing with crowd situations will address his audience on the role and function of POP in SA today.
Brigadier Bert van der Walt of the police's legal section will next focus on current crowd control legislation and practice – and their effect on law enforcement and law enforcers; a subject he has extensively studied. His presentation will be reinforced by that of Colonel Ally Feizel, the police's section commander operational and tactical training, who was also manager of the police's crowd management project for SWC 2010. He will brief on a proposed new crowd management strategy for the police that will see the adoption of a less lethal approach in terms of equipment and tactics.
Moving further afield, Innocence Chumwa, executive director of the Centre for Law Enforcement Education (CLEEN) in Nigeria will talk on the Nigerian experience with POP, while Mutuma Ruteera, the Dean of Research at the Kenya Human Rights Commission will engage on POP in his country.
International security and justice sector reform consultant Piet Biesheuvel will focus on ways to manage reputational risk when undertaking sensitive policing activities such as crowd control with an emphasis on international examples of good and “not so good” practice as well as the lessons learned.
University of Cape Town Criminology professor Elrena vd Spuy will draw lessons from South Africa's past, with emphasis on crowd control before the advent of nonracial democracy in 1994. Noted researcher Bilkis Omar will add to this by drawing lessons for the present and future.
Meanwhile, Professor Monique Marks of the University of KwaZulu-Natal and UMAC director Sean Tait will ask if the current legal and policy environment still meets the facts on the ground. Have the nature of demonstrations changed? Have we neglected building the capacity and skill of crowd marshals and the ongoing training required by the police? Has there been a gradual erosion of police public order capacity through the ongoing restructuring that has taken place within the police?
For more on this subject, consider attending defenceWeb's Public Order Policing conference at Gallagher Estate on October 3-4.
For more information contact Maggie Pienaar at ++27 11 807 3294 or email@example.com
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