COSATU condemns and denounces the use of unnecessary violence against striking Makro employees in Germiston yesterday

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) denounces and condemns the brutal attack on protesting workers by police at Makro Retail Store in Germiston yesterday. Police used unnecessary violence to disrupt a legal workers’ protest where workers were standing up for their rights.

The Federation demands an investigation of this unacceptable abuse of power by both the South African Police Service (SAPS) hierarchy and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

We declare our solidarity with the Makro workers who were affected and support their just and legitimate struggle for better pay and working conditions.

We have consistently decried the use of police officers to silence workers who are fighting for their rights. We cannot afford, as a nation, to revert to an era where police ended up acting like an unaccountable paramilitary doing the bidding of the private and public power structure.

After 1994, there was a consensus that SAPS needed to be transformed from an organisation that was used to brutally repress dissent into an organization, whose sole function is to protect and not intimidate.

Since then, unfortunately, we have witnessed the continued use of excessive violence during protests. Workers have borne the brunt of this police brutality.

We detest the use of unnecessary force by the police against workers in all labour disputes and continue to believe that in many instances police officers are unfairly placed in situations which they are untrained and ill-equipped to deal with protests.

The lack of adequate funding for law enforcement agencies is also responsible for the deterioration in policing standards. Police officers are over worked and poorly trained.  Police officers themselves have objected to being used to settle wage and shopfloor disputes where managers and company owners have refused to negotiate with unions and workers in good faith.

The decline of police numbers from over 200 000 to 172 000 over the past decade means that the police to citizen ratio is one (1) police looking after four hundred and fifty (450) citizens. This is double the internationally recommended norm for effective and safe policing standards.  This, though, still does not justify the use of violence against protesters.

Issued by COSATU   

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794