Challenge on the cards over 'apartheid-style' policing white paper

Cape Town – The white paper on policing’s recommendation for a single police force is unconstitutional and will be challenged if signed into law, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said on Monday.

“We will not allow a one-size-fits-all crime reduction strategy,” she told journalists in Goodwood.

Referring to the Constitution, she said a Metro Police service was specifically provided for.

De Lille said the white paper claimed that the country’s limited resources did not allow for duplication of functions.

She believed the Metro Police and SA Police Service (Saps) complemented each other.

Metro Police focused on social crime prevention and left “more dangerous” crimes like hijackings and bank robberies to Saps.

“As you know, Saps cannot be in all the areas. In some areas, we are asked by Saps to relieve them where they cannot cope and we have always been able to assist.”

Government input

She believes the idea of a centralised police force is reminiscent of apartheid.

The white paper also cited jurisdiction issues with “artificial boundaries and barriers between police forces”.

De Lille said this is far from the truth because the primary responsibility to deal with crime rested with Saps.

Part of the city’s units and initiatives included gang and drug task teams, school resource officers and neighbourhood safety officers.

“The white paper recommends that all law enforcement services should be limited to traffic and by-law enforcement which would mean the disbandment of all these units and initiatives.”

While she believed input from local and provincial government had been largely ignored, she was mobilising ahead of public participation processes.

Provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato said he welcomed some aspects of the white paper.

However, it fell short on the oversight mandate of provincial government, specialised policing and the role of neighbourhood watches.

“As the Western Cape government we remain opposed to short-sighted policing policy changes which could in practice lead to even worse policing service delivery,” he said.

Both the city and the government would head to the Constitutional Court if these recommendations were signed into law.

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