DA to seek legal advice over oversight visits issue

2018-11-01 15:45
Colonel Johan Bouwer blocks DA spokesperson on community safety Dr Rishigen Viranna and DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango from entering the police garage in Oribi.

Colonel Johan Bouwer blocks DA spokesperson on community safety Dr Rishigen Viranna and DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango from entering the police garage in Oribi. (Ian Carbutt)

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The DA in the province says it will seek legal advice if it continues to be barred from an oversight visits at police stations.

This comes after the party was prevented from conducting an unannounced oversight visit at the police vehicle garage in Oribi, where hundreds of police vehicles are allegedly sitting waiting to be repaired.

The DA’s action comes on the back of a report by The Witness this week, which alleged vehicles can wait years to be fixed.

DA provincial leader Zwakele Mncwango and its spokesperson for community safety Dr Rishigen Viranna were told by officers at the station on Wednesday that they could not enter.

Colonel Johan Bouwer told them a directive from acting provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Lucky Mkhwanazi meant there could be no unannounced visits to the station.

Mncwango then tried to call Mkhwanazi and MEC for Community Safety Mxolisi Kaunda, but could not get through. The party later said it had written to Mkhwanazi requesting a meeting next week to discuss this.

Mncwango told media outside the station, however, that the DA would seek legal advice should this persist, and called their barring “unconstitutional”.

“We are concerned about the high level of crime in the province … [and] in most cases we hear the issue of resources, that there are no vans on the streets and officers themselves complain they don’t have cars.”

He said the party was shocked to read The Witness article. “We felt as Members of the Provincial Legislature that we needed to get reasons for this.

“If they can’t allow us in, it’s a breach of the Constitution, and we will take the matter up. Our Constitution is clear: members of the legislature can do oversight visits announced or unannounced on any public institution.”

Mncwango added that their visit was not to antagonise the police, but rather to find solutions to an important problem.

'Things went downhill fast' 

The troubles at the Oribi police garage only started in recent years when there was a change in management a few years ago and “things went downhill very fast”.

This was said by a source who had previously done business with the garage for over a decade.

He declined to be named for professional reasons. “Years ago the car park in The Witness photograph in Tuesday’s paper was for staff cars only. All vehicles needing repairs were parked in the actual workshop yard. There usually weren’t more than 20 cars parked there at a time,” he said.

He said the turnaround time for repairs on police vehicles used to be between two or four days depending on the work, and that special exceptions were sometimes made for units such as the K9 Unit where the vehicle would be repaired the same day.

He added that three or four years ago some work was contracted to a particular outlet in Durban, however, answers about the change were not forthcoming. The source said it now takes a month or more for some repairs to be completed and that the cost of repairs has “sky-rocketed”

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