DA spokesman Marius Redelinghuys and Cape metro chairman Shaun August were arrested by riot police on Thursday (12/02/15) ahead of the eighth state-of-the-nation address, the party said.
— The Herald PE (@HeraldPE) February 12, 2015
“The DA condemns the use of water-cannons, batons and trained riot police to forcefully remove and arrest our supporters outside Parliament tonight,” spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said in a statement.
“We want to make it clear that those arrested and attacked were peaceful spectators to a state event. These are people who wanted make their voices heard about the electricity crisis facing our nation.”
She said the Democratic Alliance was calling for their immediate release and that of the other supporters also arrested. Van Damme said riot police rushed at DA supporters with shields and batons, citing “instructions from above” to remove them from Adderley Street “before the president comes”.
“Water cannons were fired into the backs of supporters who posed no threat to the police and were trying to escape harm,” she said. “The violence, manhandling and politicised policing we have seen outside Parliament tonight is an alarming sign that we are headed toward a police state.”
Western Cape police said they were not in a position to comment on what happened in the Cape Town CBD, and on whether Redelinghuys was arrested or if police used a water cannon.
“At this stage we are not in a position to give a blow-by-blow account of what is happening in town,” Colonel Tembinkosi Kinana said.
“When we are in a position to give a statement and confirm all the details of what happened we will issue a statement, but at this stage we are not in a position to comment.”
Kinana said that, as was usually the case during the state-of-the-nation address, the number of police deployed was increased.