Media Statement 

Pretoria, 26 January 2021: The Minister of Social Development, Ms Lindiwe Zulu would like to once again put it on record that she did not instruct any police officers to use a water cannon to control a queue of social grants applicants at a local SASSA service point in Bellville, Western Cape Province. 

Contrary to false and misleading media reports peddled on mainstream and social media platforms, Minister Zulu intervened to stop the police from using the water cannon on social grants applicants. She later climbed on the police vehicle to use their public address system to calm the situation and to plead with them to observe COVID-19 protocols, and not to “hide from the public” as the media reports would want us to believe, including the Sunday Times article dated 17 January 2021. 

Despite repeated attempts by Minister Zulu to put what happened in context, some members of the media chose to write what they want to believe, even when their reports do not make sense at all, including journalists who wrote their stories based on hearsay. 

“Once again, I would like to put it on record that I never instructed members of the SAPS to use spray water on the poor and vulnerable South Africans who were queuing outside Bellville SASSA offices. As the Minister of Social Development, I fully understand that social grants have been and continue to be a cushion for the most vulnerable in these difficult and unprecedented times. My visit to Bellville SASSA Office was to address the issue of long queues and to ensure our people receive the much-needed services in a manner that uphold their human dignity”, said Minister Zulu. 

“I also wanted to ensure that desperate and vulnerable people do not have to choose between their livelihoods and protecting themselves and their families safe from the devastating second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The allegations that I instructed police to use water cannon on the very same people I went to assist are not only false and misleading, but also designed to cast aspersions on my character and the organisation which I represent”, added Minister Zulu. 

As Minister Zulu informed members of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in a meeting last week, the use of the water cannon by police is currently under investigation by the Western Cape SAPS to establish what exactly happened on the day. 

Minister Zulu takes this opportunity to appeal to members of the media, whatever their political leanings may be, to avoid spreading false and misleading information which advance political agendas of some political agendas, but which is not in the public interest.