2 November 2016
“Government expresses its deep disappointment at the wanton looting and destruction of property by some party members who took part in what were otherwise peaceful and democratic activities today” said Donald Liphoko, Acting Director-General of Government Communications (GCIS).
Liphoko added that this behavior detracts significantly from any constructive democratic process as do the reported acts of intimidation and violation of the rights of those who opted not to participate in marches or gatherings today. “We re-emphasize that every person has the right to protest as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, however this right comes with a responsibility to act within the ambit of the law and to respect the equal rights of other citizens not to protest” said Liphoko. "Government welcomes today’s activities as an illustration of an active citizenry that is essential to any robust democracy. Organisers of marches should ensure that the unsightly scenes that we witnessed on the streets of our capital city do not recur. That kind of disregard for the laws of the country is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
It is extremely unfortunate that a section of the marchers disregarded the conditions of their authorisation to march by taking their protest to the Union Buildings.
The march to the Union Buildings was not part of any application to march by any group. This behavior is clearly not in line with the Regulation of Gatherings Act, which clearly states that conveners of a march must take the necessary steps to ensure gatherings and demonstrations proceed peacefully and that the gathering must take place where, and during times specified in the notice. Such conduct shows a blatant and irresponsible disregard for the rule of law and social order.
The deviation by some participants goes against the Constitution, the cornerstone of the country’s democracy, which provides guidance on all public participation processes and which informs relevant local legislation for such marches and gatherings.
Government encourages all citizens to utilise appropriate platforms, including authorised marches, to raise concerns and contribute to the narrative to strengthen the country’s democracy. South Africa has made unparalleled gains and as a nation we should not allow or accept unruly behavior that tramples upon the rights of other people.
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Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)