DA KZN unhappy with 'ban' on police stations sharing info with public officials

2018-10-18 22:49
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The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is unhappy with a South African Police Service (SAPS) instruction preventing provincial police clusters and station commanders from sharing information with members of the provincial legislature (MPLs).

KwaZulu-Natal's acting police commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi has apparently instructed provincial police clusters and station commanders not to share any information with public representatives, according to a letter released by the DA on Thursday.

DA KwaZulu-Natal MPL and spokesperson on community safety and liaison Rishigen Viranna said the circular issued by Mkhwanazi "goes so far as to say DA representatives, in particular, are to be denied access to information".

"It also indicates that parliamentary portfolio committees must first obtain permission from the provincial police headquarters before conducting oversight inspections. The DA will not bow to the acting commissioner's unconstitutional directive," said Viranna.

The circular, seen by News24, states that members of political parties "irrespective which party it is, and any political figures", who visit police institutions to enquire on any police business such as operations, crime, resources, finances, etc, cannot be given such information.

Viranna said the DA would continue to conduct inspections of police stations and SAPS units across KwaZulu-Natal, as empowered by section 114(2)b of the South African Constitution.

'This is no way to live'

In addition, MPLs were empowered by section 203(3) to obtain information with regard to police conduct, visible policing, police efficiency and effectiveness.

"The people of KZN are currently buckling under the scourge of crime with the province recording the highest number of murders countrywide, with a person killed every two hours.

"Those who can afford to have turned their homes into 'prisons' with high walls, barbed wire and cameras. This is no way to live," said Viranna.

The party has written to community safety and liaison MEC Mxolisi Kaunda, calling on him to condemn the circular issued by Mkhwanazi. It has also called for Mkhwanazi to appear before the provincial legislature to explain the instruction.

Mkhwanazi has maintained the provincial police's stance.

"The SAPS is a government department and it must account to the South African public but such can only be done through Parliament and/or the legislature," Mkhwanazi said in an email reply to a News24 enquiry. 

"No private entity including political parties, NGOs, etc, are permitted to conduct any official oversight visit at a government department, including the SAPS, unless permission is granted by the minister of police.

"Government entities, e.g. secretariats, Auditor-General, SAPS divisions, etc, can conduct their work but the station or unit commanders would have been officially informed of these processes beforehand."

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