Wrong ammo used at protest – Mthethwa

FILE PICTURE: A police member detains a protester, 14 January 2014, in Damonsville, North West Province. Residents have been protesting over the lack and bad quality of water in the area for the past few days. Yesterday (13 January 2013) police allegedly opened fire on protesters with live ammunition killing two, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) have been called in to investigate. Picture: Alaister Russell
Police fired discontinued shotgun rounds during a service delivery protest in Mothutlung, North West, in which four protesters were killed last week, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday.

The SSG 12-gauge rounds, which contain pellets, were officially discontinued by the SA Police Service in 2006, and were “not supposed to be used”, he told reporters in Pretoria.

Three people died in Mothutlung during the protests over water services two allegedly shot by police, while another died after falling out of a police vehicle. A fourth, shot in the head on the day, died a week later in hospital.

Responding to questions, Mthethwa said no live ammunition was used by police at the protest.

He announced that 14 police officers six constables, six warrant officers and two lieutenants were facing disciplinary action.

“Six are already suspended, others are being served with their suspension notices.”

The disciplinary process could take up to 60 days. All of them were “well-experienced and practised” members of the public order policing unit, Mthethwa said.

According to police, a total of 185 shots were fired at protesters in Mothutlung last week during the water delivery protests.

These included rubber shot and the discontinued SSG rounds, as well as two stun grenades and a number of smoke grenades.