Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has condemned an incident where Sanral employees allegedly “man-handled” peaceful protesters picketing outside the N1 Beyers Naude customer service centre.
The incident took place on Friday morning, JPSA said, when a small group of anti e-toll protesters gathered outside the centre to take a photograph of themselves holding the banner that they had been displaying on the bridge over the N1 freeway earlier.
“Suddenly and without warning, a group of Sanral employees came storming out of the building and started grabbing at the banner, pushing protesters around and shouting at them that they are ‘not allowed to do that’ outside Sanral’s premises,” the group said.
The Sanral employees allegedly “pushed protesters, manhandled women and grabbed at their banner in a short scuffle that broke out and this led to an exchange of angry words”.
JPSA head, Howard Dembovsky noted Section 17 of the Constitution which states that “Everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions” and it is not necessary for small groups of persons to “apply for permission” to exercise their constitutional right to picket.
The group condemned the action, while two of the protesters have laid charges of common assault against the people concerned.
“No-one, including Sanral employees, has the right to take the law into their own hands and should they have wished to disperse the protesters, all they had to do was call the police,” it said.
More on e-tolls