City playing CAT and mouse

2015-09-26 08:52
The K9 unit’s Constable Bianca Cantello and her dog, Atilla, with Combined Action Team members at Kharina Secondary School ahead of the Community On Patrol (Cop) initiative set to begin next month.

The K9 unit’s Constable Bianca Cantello and her dog, Atilla, with Combined Action Team members at Kharina Secondary School ahead of the Community On Patrol (Cop) initiative set to begin next month. (Ian Carbutt)

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Pietermaritzburg - The Msunduzi mayor wants the ­successful crime fighting unit, the Combined Action Team (CAT) back on the streets.

A meeting with high-ranking city officials and both police cluster commanders, Brigadier ­Francis Bantham and Major-General ­Lucas Ngobeni, took place late on Friday afternoon.

In a statement released by the city, Msunduzi speaker Babu Baijoo said the meeting discussed the disestablishment of CAT and the impact it will have on communities in the city.

“The mayor [Chris Ndlela] met with Major General Lucas Ngobeni and it was agreed that the city’s political leadership continue to engage the two cluster commanders on these and other issues concerning community safety,” said Baijoo.

However, Ngobeni retaliated when contacted by Weekend Witness saying that he “did not want CAT anymore”.

“They [the municipality] are not in charge of the police. I am in charge of the police and I do not want CAT anymore,” he said.

“If they [the municipality] want CAT, then they must make up their own,” he said.

Pietermaritzburg SAPS spokesperson Constable Mthokozisi Ngobese said that the release by the city did not say they had called for CAT to be re-established, but only that there would be talks regarding community safety and community policing with the city, which the police supported.

Baijoo said that the city requires “transparent and inclusive dialogue” among all communities and stakeholders.

“We have noted with concern that CAT was disestablished. The dialogue between communities and stakeholders will assist and promote effective policing and enhanced community safety,” he said.

Msunduzi Mayor Chris Ndlela said “no formal notice or statement” has been seen by the municipality in relation to the anticipated CAT closure.

“We have noted their achievements. We want all relative stakeholders to come together to fight crime,” said Ndlela.

He added that the city cannot comment further on the unbundling of CAT until they have received all the facts.

Social media was abuzz this week when The Witness reported that CAT was canned by police management.

Many called for the reinstatement of the crime-busting unit and questioned the police management’s decision to have the unit disbanded.

An online petition has been started by community members calling for CAT to be back on the street.

The petition says that CAT had made more than 430 arrests in six months and “deserve” to return to the streets.

On Wednesday, it was announced that CAT would be disbanded following a surprising move by police heads.

The highly acclaimed team made their final arrests on Tuesday when they brought down a burglary syndicate ­operating in upmarket residential areas. Tuesday’s arrests were the last of more than 430 in the short time since the ­14-member team was formed in February this year.

In the eight months the team, made up mostly of police officers, recovered more than R10 million worth of stolen goods without one charge laid against a member or one suspect killed during an arrest.

Brigadier Francis Bantham declined to comment when approached yesterday

Read more on:    msunduzi municipality  |  pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  saps

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