The third and final stop on COSATU in the Western Cape’s march against crime and the high price of petrol and other fuels was at Parliament on Thursday afternoon, 4 August.
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COSATU WANTS POLICE INVOLVED WITH GANGS FIRED
The Federation read a list of demands that included, an end to gang violence, a responsive government, an end to corruption, a request for all police stations to be evaluated regularly and for station commanders to report back to communities.
Union members also demanded improved railway safety, and the dismissal of police officers involved in gangsterism.
It was the same memorandum read to Western Cape MEC for Community Safety, Reagan Allen, earlier in the day. Allen’s response was cut short when the Federation’s leadership didn’t appreciate his tone. No memorandum was handed over to the City of Cape Town as they reportedly did not indicate that Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis would not be accepting the document himself.
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that protestors offered Cele, who is a member of the ANC – COSATU’s alliance partner – a warmer welcome. However, Motlatsi Tsubane, the Federation’s Western Cape Chair, repeatedly denied claims that COSATU is defending the national government.
CELE SAYS THERE ARE MANY GOOD HUMANS IN SAPS
The Minister of Police spoke for approximately 15 minutes. On the issue of rotten apples in the police force, Cele said, “I walk with [South African Police Service (SAPS) members] here, I patrol these places, I’ve got too many good men and women in blue. Indeed there are those that are bad apples. But for your information, many of them are good human beings.”
He said that the reasons prisons are overpopulated are because SAPS does a good job and puts criminals there. Cele singled out gender-based violence convicts – it was one of the pressing issues raised by members.
He said approximately 6000 GBV convicts are imprisoned for life, “including the [Ntuthuko] Shoba boy that was sentenced last week.”
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DEAL WITH THE ENTIRE CLUSTER
Cele challenged COSATU to “deal with” the entire security cluster and not just the police. He said SAPS is seen as the face of crime fighting, which is unfortunate as the grievances raised required the input of the courts and correctional services.
“Here in the Western Cape, there is a court that is known as a bail wholesale – if you want to get bail, you go to Khayelitsha.
“If you go to that court, you are bound to get bail. That’s why we’ve got criminals that have got 10, five, eight bails. Police need to chase them again and again. I’m challenging you to deal with all of us, not only the police,” said the police minister.
Cele also asked the Federation to help ensure that alleged criminals do not take over community structures.
He referred to Yanga Nyalara, also known as Bara, who was recently arrested and was considered the province’s most wanted suspect for quite some time.
“Here, we have arrested a young gentleman called Bara. Bara has been charged with 31 cases, among those charges he’s got 19 bodies from Khayelitsha,” said Cele.
Nyalara is reportedly a teacher by profession and owns eight taxis. Cele said after his arrest, members of the Khayelitsha community staged a protest and told him Bara is a good man.
“The guy is charged with 19 dead bodies. So, he is able to bribe our communities. Be careful that criminals do not take over our community structures. It is important that we work together.”
WESTERN CAPE RESOURCES AND DEVOLUTION
Cele said the Western Cape “is making a lot of noise” about the devolution of the police service. The Minister furthered that the issue is beyond his control. “If anybody wants anything changed, go to the Constitution.”
He also repeated a statement that ruffled the provincial government’s feathers in 2021. Cele said the Western Cape has received more resources than any other province.
According to Cele, over the last 18 months, the Western Cape SAPS has received around 200 officers from different parts of the country on a quarterly basis. These officers are reportedly stationed in the eight stations in the province that are listed as having the most murders.
He said that the provincial police are in the process of reallocating resources from lower-density crime stations to areas where there is a greater need.
“Whenever I am here to collect dead bodies, I never collect dead bodies from Constantia, Bishopscourt and Camps Bay. All dead bodies, they come from the Cape Flats, Hanover, Khayelitsha, Delft… we have started shifting resources from lower crime density stations to the high-density stations.
“Last week, he announced 187 police have been taken from these stations across the city to the high crime density stations. So, we are working on that to review whatever we have,” said Cele.
Approximately 10 000 graduate police officers will be distributed across the country in December. This should improve numbers on the ground, according to the Minister.
He said he will respond to COSATU’s list of demands within 21 days and call on other ministers whose departments are implicated in the grievances to do the same.
The Federation said it would accept Cele’s challenge to take on other structures of the justice system. “We will go to them but you will also be involved,” said Tsubane.