Three years after the Marikana massacre our police are still using R-5 assault rifles for crowd control. This was one of the shock findings at the Farlam Commission when Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega admitted that police continue to use the R-5 military grade assault rifle, even though an international policing expert called the use of these rifles “totally unacceptable” .
The R-5 is a massacre rifle. Because its bullets disintegrate on impact, police officers who use them to brutally gun down people in crowd control situations, can’t be held to account as bullets cannot be traced back to them.
We, the people, must remind Police Commissioner Phiyega, Police Minister Nhleko and the Police Portfolio Committee of their duty to ensure the safety of all who live in South Africa by banning the use of the R-5 massacre rifle by those tasked with protecting us.
But we have to act now. The Police Portfolio Committee is under pressure to implement the recommendations of the Marikana Report, a report which includes statements from experts that R-5's don't belong in our police force. This is a critical moment if we are to tackle police brutality, Police Commissioner Phiyega previously asked treasury for an additional R3.3 billion over four years, some of which will be used to increase "physical resources", for public order policing including buying R-5 assault rifles .
Dear Minister of Police, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, National Police Commissioner, Mme Riah Phiyega, President Jacob Zuma and the Police Portfolio Committee members Francois Beukman, Deidre Carter, Ahmed Munzoor Shaik Emam, Petrus Johannes Groenewald, Dianne Kohler Barnard, Jerome Joseph Maake, Livhuhani Mabija, Zakhele Njabulo Mbhele, Martha Phindile Mmola, Mangaqa Albert Mncwango, L.A. Mncwango, Angelina Molebatsi and Leonard Ramatlakane.
As the leaders and committee members overseeing the South African Police Service (SAPS), which is tasked with “creating a safe and secure environment for all the people in South Africa”, you have an obligation to ensure that police are not armed in a way that does not live up to this. You have admitted that the Public Order Policing (P.O.P.) unit and Tactical Response Team (T.R.T.) of SAPS still use deadly R-5 rifles in crowd control operations, despite the fact that the use of R-5s goes against international public order policing norms. What happened in Marikana should have been used by SAPS as a moment to reflect on how public order policing and crowd control situations are undertaken.
We ask that you show your commitment to the vision of SAPS becoming a professional and demilitarised force by disarming POP units of R-5 rifles and announcing this on the 26th August as a show of your commitment to stop another Marikana and finally head the warnings of experts in the Marikana Report who warned you that R-5's don't belong in a police force.