Human rights and the policing of disorder in South Africa: challenges and future directions

Keywords: public disorder, reasonable force, excessive force, lethal or deadly force, protesters, human rights


Unarguably, the South African Police during the apartheid era was characterised by brutality and state repression, including the political executions of several South African citizens who dared oppose the apartheid regime. The post-apartheid era has also witnessed deaths of citizens at the hands of the police during demonstrations, demanding better service delivery, higher wages, improved working conditions, and an end to marginalisation and poverty. The author presents some cases of police human rights violations concerning policing citizen’s protests. This is a qualitative study, relying on extensive literature review by previous researchers. The findings of this study are: The South Africa Police Service continues to violate citizen's right to protest, which is enshrined in the Republic of South Africa’s constitution under chapter 2 “Bill of Rights” and other international legal jurisprudence. The South African police have failed to perform their duties professionally and effectively when it comes to policing protests. Crown management remains an elusive issue both during the apartheid and post-apartheid eras. The author recommends a demilitarization of the police consistent with the South African government policy recommendation, found in the National Development Plan 2030.


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Author Biography

Shaka Yesufu, University of Limpopo

Department of Research and Development


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How to Cite
Yesufu, S. (2021). Human rights and the policing of disorder in South Africa: challenges and future directions. EUREKA: Social and Humanities, (3), 72-84.