'Set aside politics and prioritise gang violence' - province reacts to transfer of Western Cape top cop

Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula.
Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula.
Malherbe Nienaber, Netwerk24

The Western Cape government hopes the new acting provincial police commissioner will set aside internal politicking in the police service following the transfer of Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula to KwaZulu-Natal, Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said.

National police commissioner General Khehla John Sitole announced on Monday that Jula would start work as the police commissioner in KwaZulu-Natal on August 1.

Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi will be the acting commissioner in Western Cape while the police work on filling the position before the end of August.

"I welcome the temporary appointment of Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi which will allow us to follow a proper process to appoint a permanent Provincial Police Commissioner," Fritz said on Monday.  

He also called for a provincial police commissioner to be appointed before the start of the Community Policing Forum elections, which are expected to be held between September and December 2019.

ALSO READ: Gang Wars MAP | Who is fighting who in Cape Town's gang lands

In the meantime, he hoped to have a productive working relationship with Mfazi.

"I look forward to the amiable and transparent appointment of a provincial commissioner who will set aside internal politics and immediately prioritise gang-related violence and criminality in the Western Cape," said Fritz.

"It is imperative that the new provincial commissioner be a person of the highest integrity who is not involved in any of the factions that are currently destroying the SAPS (SA Police Service) in the Western Cape." 

Fritz's office said new time frames for this have been provided.

The move comes amid a series of operations set up over the past months in the city and the Western Cape. This includes an Anti-Gang Unit, task teams and the arrival of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF).

'Unsavoury internal politicking'

Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town hopes Jula's transfer does not result in drastic changes to policing, MMC for safety and security JP Smith said on Monday.

"Hopefully, we're not going to be reinventing the wheel," Smith said after the news of Jula's move broke.

"SAPS has the right to move him as they see fit. But I'm afraid that it appears to me that the reasons he's being moved are related to a lot of very unhealthy and very unsavoury internal politicking," he said.

He did not know the acting commissioner well enough to comment on whether the handover would be smooth. 

Smith said he found Jula a "sincere and diligent" person, but felt he was hamstrung by the control of the Anti-Gang Unit's shift to the national office.

He was pleased that the City's metro police had been integrated into the overall policing strategies to curb violence and crime in hotspots and had been joining the intelligence briefings.

Earlier this year, Police Minister Bheki Cele committed 1 000 new police officers to the Western Cape upon the completion of their training.

The City also recently deployed 100 additional law enforcement officers to Bonteheuwel on July 2.

"Between 30 June and now, there have been no reported murders which is quite admirable given that the area had 44 murders since the beginning of the year," said Fritz's office.

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