We should be fighting crime, not stamping documents - police

SA police. (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, File)
SA police. (Antonio Muchave, Gallo Images, File)

Cape Town - Police say they are being swamped with documents that need to be certified, taking up time they could have used for fighting crime.

Paarl East station commander Colonel Mabhuti Stephans said on some days, there were so many people waiting with their documents that he had to withdraw officers from the streets to help clear the backlog.

He said they were particularly being swamped with documents relating to SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants.

"If it is not Sassa, it is an affidavit for electricity," said Stephans at a conference on Friday, to determine the provincial policing needs of the Western Cape.

The conference gathers information to give to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula so that he can decide what to spend his department's budget on. Most police stations are desperate for extra officers and more patrol vehicles, but for Stephans, a bonus would be fewer documents that need to be stamped and signed.

If banks had found a way of certifying Identity Documents and affidavits in-house, why not Sassa or the utility companies, he asked.

As of July 31, there were 17 330 034 grant recipients in South Africa, up from the 17 094 331 registered in December 2016, according to Sassa's website.

Comment was not immediately available from the agency, but according to its website, some of the documents that require certification include proof of spousal relationship affidavits and a declaration of income.

The SA Police Service client centres are among the few places that will certify these documents for free as the agency tries to stamp out fraud and corruption. Certification of a proof of address document is also required by many schools.

Stephans had earlier spoken about the crimes that gangs, drugs, and alcohol were bringing to Paarl East, about 60km from Cape Town. He needed every officer to be available to prevent crime and arrest perpetrators, he said.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said he would raise the issue with the department's legal team and asked ward councillors to help out in the meantime since certification is included in their councillor training.

Neighbourhood Watches would also be retrained to be able to certify documents, he said.

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