Leadership, oversight of SAPS not priorities for failing ANC

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

Leadership and oversight of the South African Police Service are clearly not priorities for the failing ANC members of the Safety and Security Portfolio Committee. Not only did they not call a special sitting of the portfolio committee to address the challenges being faced in Nelson Mandela Bay, but they have now also postponed the committee meeting meant to sit today.

The reason given for the postponement is due to a bereavement in the Provincial Commissioner’s family. The DA sympathises with her during this time of loss.

We are of the view that the Commissioner’s second in command should have still attended the meeting on her behalf, as has been the case, countless times in the past.

The Democratic Alliance has fought to get the matter relating to three of Nelson Mandela Bay’s top brigadiers on the committee agenda last week, only to have the meeting postponed at the last minute.

Humewood station commander Brigadier Leonie Bentley, Gelvandale station commander Brigadier Lawrence Soekoe and Brigadier Ronald Koll were facing dismissal, after being brought before a disciplinary committee on trumped-up charges relating to a meeting which the allegedly left without permission.

Following a march led by the DA, with other stakeholders, to the Mount Road police station last week, where a memorandum was handed over, the Provincial Commissioner overturned the dismissal recommendation, opting to suspend all three officers with immediate effect for two months without pay.

Evidence shows that the brigadiers were given permission to leave the meeting. It has since come to light that other senior officials allegedly perjured themselves during the hearing, which subsequently led to the recommendation for dismissal and their current suspensions.

This is simply unacceptable. The DA is aware that the harassment of these officers by members within SAPS continues.

The DA will now write to the Safety and Security Committee Chairperson, Babalwa Lobishe, to request that this matter be placed at the top of the agenda for the sitting that is now taking place on 20 May 2021.

I will also be writing to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), to request an update on whether they have begun investigating the circumstances leading up to the disciplinary cases against these brigadiers, including the perjury allegations.

Those who are implicated in committing perjury in relation to the disciplinary cases must be suspended, pending the outcome of the IPID’s investigation.

The DA believes that what is needed is an honest and reliable police service, and will continue to monitor the situation in Nelson Mandela Bay SAPS leadership closely.