Policing a political issue

DA and Good political party members outside Lentegeur police station.

Local political party members used Lentegeur police station as a soapbox to garner votes in the upcoming 2021 municipal elections.

The DA had applied to protest at the station on Thursday September 30 in a bid to foil police minister Bheki Cele’s plan to “hijack local law enforcement in Cape Town”.

But then members of the Good Party rocked up and called the municipal led party out on various issues, including municipal bills, the call to prayer and the treatment of people living on the streets.

The DA delegation, including MEC for Community Safety Albert Fritz, mayoral committee for safety and security, JP Smith and mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis were escorted into the station to hand over a memorandum.

It says that the national government seeks to use the single police service and the District Development Model to take away policing powers from the City.

According to the DA “this scheme” is expressed through the draft SAPS Amendment Bill, which would absorb the Cape Town Metro Police Department (MPD) into SAPS, limit the powers of peace officers, move the command-and-control structure away from the municipality and into SAPS, and take away the City’s power to set its own local policing priorities.

The memorandum gives Mr Cele and the ANC-led national government seven days to scrap plans for a centralised policing command structure.

According to the minister’s address at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on September 9 – criminal syndicates were recruiting and committing crimes across provincial borders.

He said the national government’s plan would improve the central command and control of policing.

“Central command is about combining resources across government and working in tandem, to enable police to chase crime in all corners of the country. Working in silos is simply not an option, if we are indeed serious about effective and efficient policing,” he said.

Mr Cele said that there was no legislative power enabling provinces to take on a national competency such as policing.

Lentegeur police station commander Colonel Errol Merkeur told the Plainsman that he could not comment on the memorandum but that he would forward it to the cluster commander, to the provincial commander and to Mr Cele.

Good Party’s Ward 75 councillor candidate Shahiem van Nelson said: “Julle los ons gemeenskap polisie stasie af”.

He said that this was not the platform to engage a national minister.