No eyes on eThekwini cops

2014-07-24 00:00

THE provincial government wants to know why the eThekwini Metro has no civilian oversight over its Metro police.

This will add further pressure on the battling Metro police and city leaders after renewed calls were made by political parties calling for a complete overhaul of the police leadership.

Earlier this month The Witness revealed that the city’s civilian oversight committee had failed to meet for a year with the body being disbanded in September 2013. The oversight committee is a legislated requirement according to the SAPS Act.

But now the Department of Community Safety and Liaison spokesperson Kwanele Ncalane has said they are “engaging” with the city, which is technically breaking the law.

“According to our legal services we have a responsibility to make sure oversight is maintained over municipal police services. We are going to be talking to the city to find out why they do not have a regular civilian oversight committee,” said Ncalane.

eThekwini is the only municipality in KZN with a municipal-funded police service with a price tag in excess of R700 million per annum.

But city spokesperson Tozi Mthethwa denied there was a problem and said there has been a “civilian oversight committee … for years”. “It hasn’t sat for a while due to the meeting not being quorate at times,” said Mthethwa.

She said the city manager was responsible for setting up the committee but added that just because the oversight committee was not functional did not mean the public couldn’t voice concern about Metro police conduct.

“Council has an Office of City Integrity and Investigations, as well as a Municipal Public Accounts Committee. Both these bodies exercise oversight over ­Metro police.

“Disciplinary action has been taken against Metro police members. The most common complaints are allegations of unlawful arrest, inconsistency in enforcement and harassment.”

Western Cape legislature member Mireille Wenger, who was instrumental in setting up the City of Cape Town’s civilian oversight committee, confirmed it is a legislated requirement.

“They are intended to … promote transparency and accountability in the Metro police and evaluate its functioning in an independent manner. It can evaluate cases relating to disciplinary matters, productivity and even police brutality,” aid Wenger.

She said Cape Town’s committee, which meets monthly, has the ability to “re-open cases against Metro police officers” when it feels that discipline has not been dealt with adequately.

Tshwane Metro civic chairperson Dolly Ledwaba said to run the committee you need “just one person with a heart for the community and who won’t take sides”.

“We have been visited by both Joburg and Ekhuruleni who are trying to get their committees up and running. We have been extremely successful and have no problem in making a quorum. We are needed as often communities are afraid of the police. We also get officials to host workshops at ward level to explain how a person can complain and avoid being intimidated. We will assist anyone — even Durban,” said Ledwaba.

Opposition wants Nzama removed

OPPOSITION political parties have either called for the removal of police chief ­Eugene Nzama or a complete overhaul of the city cops’ top structure.

Some have even called for the municipal manager Sbu Sithole to be called to account. But all admitted that despite “numerous issues” at the city police surrounding leadership, the issue has “never been discussed” at executive council level.

The IFP’s Mduduzi Nkosi believes the “crisis” at the police is a direct result of “cadre deployment” by the ANC.

The eThekwini Metro is led by the ANC.

“People have been appointed to the ­police regardless of their qualifications or experience but based on their link to the ANC’s armed wing Mkhonto we Sizwe,” said Nkosi.

The NFP’s Bongiwe Mtshali called for the removal of Nzama, calling the accident an indication of Nzama’s inability “to care for city assets”.

“There have been two many mistakes under his leadership. He is not good for the city police.”

DA city leader Zwakele Mncwango said municipal body’s such as the risk audit committee “always have an issue with the police”.

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