Pikoli SA’s first police ombudsman

2015-05-05 06:00

In concerted effort to intensify the fight against crime and improve service delivery the community forums in the Claremont Police Cluster held an open meeting.

The cluster invited the newly appointed Western Cape Police ombudsman, advocate Vusi Pikoli, to speak on his appointment and objectives of the position he holds.

Pikoli’s duties are to adjudicate public complaints about police inefficiency or problems that arose from a breakdown in relations between the police and the community. As the guest speaker Pikoli explained that as the ombudsman he is legally mandated to receive complaints and to deal with them accordingly.

“The type of complaints we will address in the office include, the inefficiency within the police service, breakdown of relations between community and police,” he says.

The Western Cape Provincial Police ombudsman is a South African first, made possible through the Western Cape Community Safety Act, which is aimed at improved policing service delivery. Pikoli explained that the Ombudsman and staff members of the ombudsman must serve independently and impartially and must perform their functions in good faith and without fear, favour, bias or prejudice, subject to the Constitution and the law.

“The ombudsman and staff members of the ombudsman must preserve confidentiality in respect of any information acquired in terms of this Act, he says.

The functions of the ombudsman are to receive and investigate complaints submitted in terms of section 16 of the Community Safety Act. The complaints include inefficiency of the police or a breakdown in relations between the police and any community and to perform the other functions assigned to him or her under this Act.

Pikoli explains that any person may submit a complaint in the prescribed manner and form to the ombudsman regarding alleged police inefficiency or a breakdown in relations between the police and any community.

“Any member of the provincial parliament may, on becoming aware of a complaint regarding alleged police inefficiency or a breakdown in relations between the police and any community, submit it to the ombudsman for investigation,” he explained.

The ombudsman must issue guidelines that are publicly accessible in respect of the procedures to submit to the ombudsman.

Pikoli further explained that for the purposes of an investigation, the ombudsman may direct any person to submit an affidavit or affirmed declaration.

He may also ask the person to appear before him or her to give evidence or to produce any document in that person’s possession or under his or her control which has a bearing on the matter being investigated, and may question that person thereon.

“I may request an explanation from any person whom he or she reasonably suspects of having information which has a bearing on the matter being investigated or to be investigated,” he said.

The ombudsman may designate staff members of the ombudsman or other suitable persons as investigating officers to perform the functions referred to in subsections (1) and (2) of the Act.

Pikoli says an investigating officer who is not in the full-time service of the state must be appointed on the prescribed conditions and at the prescribed remuneration.

An investigating officer must be provided with a certificate of appointment signed by or on behalf of the ombudsman in which it is stated that he or she is an investigating officer appointed in terms of this Act. “An investigating officer must have a certificate of appointment on his or her person when performing a function in terms of this Act,” he says.

Pikoli says that since his appointment mid-January his office has received over 90 complaints.

“We are pleased that the public are coming forward and reporting to us about their concerns which mean that we can work together and establish solutions to policing issues in the province,” he says

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