Winnie furore: police brass ‘hurt morale’

2011-01-14 00:00

FRANS Cronjé, deputy CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR), has warned in a press statement that police management’s handling of the Winnie Madikizela-Mandela incident “damages police morale, the rule of law, and the fight against crime”.

Cronjé said: “police members on the ground must be able to trust in the backing of the chain of command if they are to do their jobs effectively”.

In this case, he says, “it appears as if the command chain has placed political considerations above its responsibility to its members. This is likely to undermine the morale not only of flying squad members around the country, but also of all police officers.”

He says the SAIRR will also want an independent inquiry into events surrounding the Winnie Mandela incident.

“This matter goes far beyond the rights of a few officers. It goes to the heart of police effectiveness and the maintenance of the rule of law,” says Cronjé.

Trade union Solidarity said yesterday they have warned the police, Madikizela-Mandela and her bodyguards to lay off its member, Warrant Officer Jannie Odendaal (38).

Solidarity’s deputy CEO, Dirk Hermann, said the trade union is 100% behind Odendaal and will not allow the police and/or politicians to bully him.

“We have already instructed our legal team to support Odendaal completely if the police should proceed with any action against him. We are busy preparing criminal charges against Mandela’s bodyguards, which could include crimen injuria, assault and obstruction of justice,” Hermann said.

He says the trade union feels they cannot allow political elites and large institutions to shove ordinary hard-working citizens around.

“We plan to shove back.

“On one hand we are standing up for Odendaal, but on the other hand we are standing up for every defenceless individual,” said Hermann.

He confirmed that Odendaal will tell his full story on Solidarity Radio (www.Solidarityradio.co.za) at noon today.

Among other support, someone created a Facebook page, “We support Jannie Odendaal”, yesterday. More than 1 600 people had recorded their support on it by yesterday evening.

Messages of “we stand behind you” and “Jannie just did his job, why is he being punished” are reflected in several people’s comments on this page.

Odendaal himself wrote on Facebook, “It gives me goosebumps to see how much support Beeld readers are giving us.”

Earlier police told Sapa the senior state prosecutor would decide how to proceed on the matter.

Gauteng spokesperson Colonel Neville Malila said: “The alleged allegations were reported to the South African Police Service and are currently under investigation.”

Madikizela-Mandela’s bodyguard Jacob Monare laid a complaint with police of pointing a firearm and intimidation.

The policemen face an internal investigation.

Malila said Madikizela-Mandela is not a complainant in the case.

In line with the police’s internal disciplinary regulations, the officers were temporarily transferred until the investigation was concluded. They also had to hand in their guns.

“Due to the fact that the criminal charges are firearm-related, members were requested to hand in their firearms pending the outcome of the investigation.”

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