Policing any public order demonstrations in Africa is fraught with complexity. Indeed, the business of policing crowds whether spontaneous gatherings or planned marches requires much planning from police officers and marchers themselves. In a democracy, there are key policy and operational imperatives that have to be respected and implemented by the police and marchers prior to such marches taking place. It remains a requirement for the police to protect the marchers, especially if the protests are peaceful. Their stance necessarily changes when the protest or March turns violent.
Does this mean that the policing of demonstrations, pickets and protests in South Africa are democratic? The answer to that question is the subject of much discussion and the purpose of this chapter is to discuss the processes that police in South Africa use to manage demonstrations. It hopes to address the question in the process of dealing with policing of crowds in South Africa.