DA and Cope speak out against SAPS and Metro merger

2009-10-13 10:23

THE DA has vowed to oppose the proposed merger of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and Metro police, through the courts if necessary.

This was the message after a meeting between Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, Cape Town mayor Dan Plato and deputy mayor Ian Neilson yesterday.

On Saturday, deputy police minister Fikile Mbalula said the ministry was seeking to merge the SAPS and Metro police forces to create “one single strong police force”.

Zille’s spokesperson, Robert Macdonald, said the DA would be the first to approach the courts. Should that be unsuccessful, both the DA-led City of Cape Town and Province would approach the courts in their own capacities.
Macdonald said incorporating the Metro police into SAPS would be a move to centralize power and would create inefficiency, further reducing the accountability of Metro police.

He said the Metro police were under good management and working well, with specialized units such as the Copperheads and Drug Busters in the city having made progress.

“This is in line with international best practice, where decentralised police have achieved better results. Centralisation reduces accountability, as shown in the case of Selebi and Agliotti,” he said.

The Cape Town mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said the amalgamation of SAPS and Metro police would not be in the best interests of ratepayers as the Metro police’s competency was in traffic and by-law enforcement, while the SAPS needed to deal with other crimes.

Smith said competencies pertaining to the Metro police would thus “fall by the wayside”, which would affect “operational outcomes”.
“Therefore I would suggest that national government knuckle down and stop fiddling with structures as we’re fast approaching 2010.”

Last night, COPE deputy president Mbhazima Shilowa said although the party had not yet discussed the issue and released a statement, it was better to examine the provisions in existing law for co-ordination between SAPS and Metro police than forcing a merger.

Shilowa questioned whether the move was for better crime-fighting, as a merger would mean the SAPS would also be responsible for enforcing by-laws and dealing with traffic offences, or whether it was a way to gain “a single command” structure.

“At the moment I think they’re just flying a kite,” he said.
Mbalula’s spokesperson, Paena Galane, said the ministry was exploring the possibililty of “coming up with one single Act” that would align all crime fighting structures. – West Cape News

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