DA and John Steenhuisen to approach the courts over decision on schools

DA Leader John Steenhuisen. Image via: Ziyaad Douglas / Gallo

Need to report police brutality? The DA has launched a WhatsApp hotline

Members of the public can also send questions to the DA WhatsApp number regarding their legal rights during the COVID-19 lockdown.

DA and John Steenhuisen to approach the courts over decision on schools

DA Leader John Steenhuisen. Image via: Ziyaad Douglas / Gallo

On Wednesday 1 April, the Democratic Alliance (DA) launched a WhatsApp hotline and e-mail address where members of the public can report any acts of assault, abuse or bribery by law enforcement officers. 

The public can also send the DA questions regarding their legal rights during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“We will use these platforms to advise citizens on their rights and to raise and lodge their complaints with the relevant authorities and oversight bodies,” said Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen. 

Who will oversee the WhatsApp hotline and e-mail? 

According to Steenhuisen, the WhatsApp number and e-mail address will be monitored by a task team of DA MPs who form part of the security and justice clusters in Parliament. 

“They are experts in their fields and will be able to provide expert advice to the South African public,” he said. 

“The nation is only six days into this lockdown and we have already seen increased violence at the hands of those who were tasked with protecting and serving us,” he added. 

On Tuesday 31 March, reports indicated that the police shot two nurses at the Bongani Regional Hospital in Welkom, and on Monday 30 March, an Ekurhuleni metro police officer and a security guard were arrested for allegedly shooting and killing a Vosloorus man while enforcing lockdown regulations.

The DA feels that due to these incidents, a WhatsApp number should be made available for members of the public to report incidents.

‘Gross abuse of power’ by police, military during lockdown 

According to the DA’s statement, there are numerous videos on social media showing police and army officers increasingly brutalising and humiliating members of the public. 

“Some South Africans were threatened and assaulted in their own backyards and while standing in line to buy the essentials. This is a gross abuse of the power entrusted to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF),” said Steenhuisen. 

“That is why there is an urgent need for oversight and monitoring of the SANDF’s deployment in the country, as well as the police’s conduct,” he added. 

The DA said it would like to remind law enforcement officials that this is a state of disaster, not a state of emergency. 

“The role of the military is to ensure that lockdown measures are enforced while remembering that South Africans do have rights, even in these unprecedented times. These rights have been hard-fought for and must not be so flagrantly disregarded and disrespected by those few in uniforms that misunderstood their mandate,” he said. 

Hence why the DA feels the need for a dedicated WhatsApp number and e-mail address.

South Africans should adhere to lockdown, but…

The DA agreed that it is important for South Africans to adhere to the lockdown regulations and that they should face the consequences of their actions within the law. However, it strongly condemns the “brazen acts of violence, humiliation and degradation committed against our citizens”.

“It is these increased incidences of violence and brutality on the part of law enforcement officers, enforcing the lockdown, which strengthens our call for an ad hoc committee of Parliament to perform oversight of the executive and ensure the protection of civil liberties during the lockdown,” said Steenhuisen. 

The public can contact the DA on the following platforms for expert advice and to report incidents of abuse:

  • WhatsApp: 067 977 9324
  • E-mail: reportpoliceabuse@da.org.za