Speech Notes: Ilinge Police Station – Law Enforcers or Law Breakers?

Issued by Marshall von Buchenroder, MPL
Member of Safety and Liaison Portfolio Committee

It would be amiss of me if I do not add my voice of congratulatory remarks to the Democratic Alliance for hosting the first-ever successful virtual congress in Africa.

It speaks volumes to the kind of political party and leadership we have. Furthermore, it is most fitting to congratulate the new PEC members of the Democratic Alliance. I would like to wish you well in your term of office.

The opposite can be said about the current government, who is always on the wrong side of the fence.
Speaker, I am standing before you today in a state of anger, sadness, and desperation because the police officers in Ilinge, who are the cornerstone of safety for that community, and who are the first line of defence against criminality, are not upholding their oath to protect and serve the community.

Speaker, I am standing here speaking on behalf of a community that is supposed to be protected by the Ilinge Police Station. But this community no longer trusts their own police. They are refusing to open cases, because they feel it is a waste of time, and opt to take the law into their own hands, as they fear the police are working with the criminals in their community.

It is my view, Speaker, that the SAPS should be protecting all who reside in South Africa, regardless of race, gender, or nationality. Why is it then, Speaker, that the community speak about the police officers at Ilinge Police Station being xenophobic? Why are they refusing to even open a case for foreign nationals? Are they not residents of this country we call home?

Hon Speaker, this has led to the community taking the law into their own hands. Yet again I ask, did these police officers not take an oath to protect, serve and uphold the law, and to put our citizens first?

Speaker, as we all know, the lack of infrastructure, staff and corporate governance is ever-present in the SAPS. This was extremely clear from the oversight visit report on the Ilinge Police Station, which has been run with minimal supervision or support. Several cases have been opened at this police station, but the community has not received any feedback.

Above all, Speaker, there have been reports that, yet again, police have been involved in criminal activities, practising corruption and abusing state-owned assets, in this case police vehicles.

Section 203, subsection 4 of the Police Act of 1990 states, and I would quote verbatim “A person (including a police officer) who drives or possesses a motor vehicle that is not owned or leased by the state, or an authority of the state, and has on it any police insignia – is guilty of an offense.

Madam Speaker, we need to act against individuals who conduct criminal activities under the guise of police officers.

As recent as this passing weekend, it is alleged that two women, dressed in full police attire, arrived at a shop where a victim worked. The alleged policewomen then questioned the victim about a robbery which took place two months ago.

These so-called policewomen then proceeded to kidnap the victim, who was forcefully taken to nearby bushes on the R75 near to Kirkwood.

Hon Speaker, this happened in the Constituency of Winterhoek, which I lead. This is a clear example of Section 203 of the Police Act being breached. Trust and ethical behaviour should be the order in the Eastern Cape SAPS

The instance of Ilinge Police Station where the findings state that a police officer was caught stealing a sheep, is a blatant demonstration of the abuse of power in the hands of an individual that is supposed to uphold the law.

During our deliberations, it became clear that the current Station Commander is what I call “not fit for purpose”, allow me to cite a few examples:

  • When questioned about how many vehicles the station has, he could not answer
  • When asked if the station has a shortage of personnel, yet again the Station Commander was unable to respond

Madam Speaker, the Cluster Commander had to step in to respond adequately to questions posed by committee members.

In my view Madam Speaker, this is a dysfunctional station, which is supported by the facts.
Upon visiting the station, I came across the fact that police officers were equipped with nothing but their uniform, gun, and holster.

They had no pocketbook for recording incidents, no radios to communicate, no telephone line… the list goes on and on. This lack of necessary equipment makes the station and its officers non-compliant.

Madam Speaker, during our visit, the committee also discovered that a female member attended a complaint on her own, without a partner and no radio control. This is a recipe for disaster.

This past weekend, a police officer by the name of Sgt. Frieslaar, was brutally murdered in the Northern Areas of Port Elizabeth whilst he was off duty. May his Soul Rest in Peace. There is a saying “Prevention is better than Cure.”

As per the recommendation of this report, both the Cluster as well as the Provincial Commissioner should fill all funded vacant posts as a matter of urgency, to be in compliance with section 205 of the Constitution, and stop robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Madam Speaker, stock theft is on an upward trajectory in this cluster and there are no successes or reductions in this crime.

The Democratic Alliance will continue advocating for the establishment of specialized units.
Albert Einstein once Quoted “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I, therefore, appeal to both the MEC of Safety and the Provincial Commissioner of SAPS to restore law and order at the Ilinge Police Station to be compliant with section 205 of the Constitution.

We need to regain the trust of the community by rendering proper police services that will create a safer environment for our children. Where our kids are safe from harm, citizens can walk in our cities and townships without any fear, and criminals are caught promptly and prosecuted speedily.

The Democratic Alliance supports this report

I thank you