The Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) has said anti e-toll protesters outside a South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) customer service centre were manhandled by employees, and condemned the act.

According to the JPSA the protesters gathered outside the facility to take photographs of themselves and banners they had used during the protest.

“The SANRAL employees 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.  Thankfully, the protesters did not respond violently and male protesters simply positioned themselves between the SANRAL employees and the female protesters to prevent further manhandling,” the JPSA said.

The organisation said under Section 17 of the constitution individuals have the right peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions” without applying for permission.

“Furthermore, no person other than a police officer above the rank of warrant officer is authorised to order any gathering to disperse and indeed, use physical force to disperse picketers,” it said.

“We condemn the heavy-handed tactics used by SANRAL employees against these peaceful protesters in the strongest possible terms.”

Two of the women manhandled by SANRAL employees have laid charges of assault.

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