MEC accuses ANC of election tricks as party heads to Public Protector over Western Cape safety

2018-07-03 19:50
Lennit Max (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Lennit Max (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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The ANC in the Western Cape says it will ask the Public Protector to probe allegations that provincial leaders "violated" the Constitution by "failing" to keep citizens safe - a move which provincial community safety MEC Dan Plato has slated as nothing more than a political stunt ahead of the national elections.

The ANC's response was sparked by comments Police Minister Bheki Cele's newly-appointed special advisor Lennit Max made on Monday.

Max, a DA member and former member of the Western Cape legislature, said he was left frustrated and angry after his offer to be deployed to assist with provincial crime-fighting efforts was declined by the party.

He contrasted this with the response he received from "practical man" Cele, who offered him a 12-month contract to assist with strategies and ideas to bolster anti-crime projects.

Max worked his way up 11 ranks in the police force between 1979 and 2003 and held the posts of provincial police commissioner and community safety MEC at different stages in his career.

He also alleged on Monday that provincial leaders failed to act after concerns and doubts were raised about the Western Cape properly using Section 206 (the political responsibility section) of the Constitution, which detailed the power provinces have with policing needs and priorities.

'A staging ground to win votes'

In response to his comments, the ANC on Tuesday held a press conference addressed by ANC acting provincial chairperson Khaya Magaxa, provincial elections head Ebrahim Rasool and former community safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane.

They said the Max affirmed their belief that the ruling party had done more to fight crime between 1999 and 2009 in the province than the DA was doing.

"The statement by Lennit Max affirms our long-held belief that the DA has very little to offer in solving crime, but spends more time, effort and resources in politicising crime in the province, than actually solving it," said Magaxa.

READ: Lennit Max 'must do the honourable thing and resign as a member' - DA

He referred to initiatives such as Ramatlakane's Bambanani project, which at its peak in 2005 saw more than 8 000 community volunteers employed day and night to complement the police.

Rasool said the shock of the last 24 hours was that there was no real interest to fight crime and that provincial leaders were using crime as "a staging ground to win votes".

He said they would write to Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane to investigate the allegations of dereliction of duty and care.

Plato responded that the provincial ANC was still trying to fool the public about where operational control over policing lay, with the press conference on Tuesday being the "first political stunt".

"The provincial government has no operational control over the police and the ANC nationally is shifting their failures to provide safety onto the provincial government."

Murder capital of the country

Plato said he had been calling for the reinstatement of specialised policing units for years and continuously raised the issue of well-resourced and trained police officers with the provincial police commissioner.

"I will continue, through our oversight mandate, to push for the necessary changes to policing service delivery for our residents. We are the only province to have introduced legislation that pushes the boundaries our constitutional oversight mandate."

Some of the implemented initiatives mentioned by Plato included bringing in a provincial police ombudsman, a formalised system and support to community policing forums and neighbourhood watches, watching briefs at the busiest criminal courts, and the walking bus programme to and from schools to keep pupils safe.

Plato said they would continue to do what they could but would not accept the "continued hypocrisy and falsehoods spread by the ANC in the hopes of some electoral gains".

DA leader Mmusi Maimane also raised the issue of an under-resourced police service when visiting Nyanga police station with Plato and provincial DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela on Tuesday.

"Must we simply accept that a place like Nyanga will forever be known as the murder capital of the country? Must we simply accept that this ANC government refuses to listen to a community's pleas for protection?" he said in a statement.

He challenged the national government and police leaders to join him in Nyanga and to peak with people who lived in fear every day.

"Come and see for yourselves the effects of your under-resourcing of these areas. And then let us fix it together."

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  cape town  |  crime

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