KZN cop numbers still a big secret

2014-10-31 00:00

POLICE Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko has denied an appeal to make police personnel figures for individual police stations in KZN available to The Witness.

And he has maintained the release of any such information could greatly endanger the lives of police and that the stations could become targets for attack if the personnel information, which is devised under a system called the Resource Allocation Guide (RAG), was made public. This is despite similar figures being made available in the Western Cape through the Khayelitsha Commission — a move Nhleko believes should not have happened.

But a senior Khayelitsha Commission evidence leader, Jean Redpath, has called the veil of secrecy being thrown over police figures an attempt to hide from embarrassment and called SAPS bosses’ reasons for the denial “ridiculous”.

“Although information of this type is already in the public domain in the Western Cape since the commencement of the Khayelitsha Commission, no precedent has been established. In view of [our] reasons (see graphic) it is clear that the information should not have been made public,” said Nhleko.

The commission was set up by the Western Cape government to identify police deficiencies in the sprawling Cape Town township of Khayelitsha. A final report was handed to Nhleko in August for it to be signed off and the findings implemented.

He said a new tool to ascertain the deployment of police personnel, called Fixed Establishment, is being finalised for 2014/2015.

“Once approved, the Fixed Establishment for 2014/2015 will be circulated internally to all business units of the service for implementation,” said Nhleko.

“The estimated population numbers to each police station policing area in KZN will … not be provided.”

“The harm that could reasonably be expected to be caused if the requested records are disclosed outweighs the right to be properly informed.”

But Redpath said the obtaining of personnel data was fundamental to the commission. “The release of the information in Western Cape has shaken the SAPS, which is why they now don’t want it in the public domain.”

She said the figures, which were broken into the number of police per 100 000 population, showed a trend that often poor informal settlements were under-resourced as opposed to suburban areas.

“To suggest a police station will be targeted is absurd. If a person really wanted to mount an attack against a station, they would only need to watch a station for a day to figure out its numbers and movements,” said Redpath.

The Witness has been granted 180 days to appeal the ruling in a court of law.

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