Bring back street committees so that citizens can police lockdown regulations themselves says premier

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Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane has called on communities to obey the 21-day national lockdown regulations so that soldiers and police don’t have to enforce them.

There have been allegations of brutality by soldiers and police tasked with enforcing the regulations.

Setting up street committees in communities, as was done in the past, is the way to go. This will ensure people hold one another accountable, Mbuyane said.

His call comes as the police watchdog, Ipid, and the army ombudsman investigate complaints of brutality by both soldiers and police officers. It is alleged that at least three people have died a result of police officers’ or soldiers’ brutality.

The DA has set up a WhatsApp and e-mail line for citizens to report brutality by the police and soldiers. The DA will use the platform to compile a report and submit to the National Assembly. The party will also tell people what their rights are.

In an interview on Thursday, Mabuyane condemned the alleged brutality.

“This skop and donder and whatever is not really working.

“Some people in life will always learn the hard way but we have to continue treating one another with care,” he said.

The premier called for active citizenry, saying that this was the only way to prevent a situation where law enforcement agencies had to be roped to enforce the law.

“Traditional leaders, headmen, councillors and ward committees are very important in villages because people abide by what has been collectively decided by traditional councils.

“Returning to street committees in townships is the way to go, because having the police enforce things is not right, especially in a democratic dispensation.

“But people should also respect themselves so that they too will be respected by law enforcement agencies. When you do as you please, you’re not just playing with your life but putting the lives of others at risk,” he said.

“It should not be the responsibility of soldiers and the police to ensure people stay at home and obey the lockdown regulations.

“Every parent must take responsibility to keep their children at home so that street committees can take them to task if they roam around on the street. Street committees can then be able to hold parents to account if their children are not at home.”

The premier praised a committee, which had been established in 1993 in Zwelitsha, for its role in maintaining order during the first day of the payment of social grants on Monday.

“The police had nothing to do and just stood there guarding government’s money because those elderly men [from the committee] took charge and are respected by the community.

“That was beautiful to see,” he said.

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