South African security cluster executives to be held accountable for lapses during unrest

The Portfolio Committee on Police says it is steadfast that the executive will be held accountable for security lapses during the looting, violence and destruction of property that affected KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Concluding its oversight visit to Gauteng on Wednesday, the committee said it would make a follow-up and ensure that members of the executive are held to account, as per Section 92 (2) of the Constitution.

Committee Chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said Members of the Executive are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament, and it would be a “dereliction of duty on our part as Members of Parliament if we do not ensure thorough accountability”.

“It is on this basis that we will be suggesting to sister committees within the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to hold joint meetings to get to the bottom of security lapses during the violence and looting.

“The committee believes that a thorough accountability process is essential in preventing the recurrence of the violence in future. The proposal that the committee will make will include a discussion on the functionality of the intelligence apparatus, budgetary shortfalls, as well as collaboration within the cluster,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

Budget cut puts additional pressure on police

The chairperson added that the committee believes that the R11.8 billion cut to the police budget is the root cause of the slow response to looting and destruction of property.

“The acknowledgement that the police were overwhelmed as a result of the lack of human resources and equipment can only be addressed through consideration of the police’s budget,” she said.

Due to budget cuts for two successive years, the police were unable to undertake their annual intake of 7 000 new trainees into the South African Police Service (SAPS).

This, according to the committee, places additional pressure on the police “given the huge size of the population they serve”.

Investigating the police involved in looting

The committee called for the prosecution of the police officers who were arrested after being involved in looting.

Joemat-Pettersson urged the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to complete the investigations urgently.

“Also, internal disciplinary proceedings must be instituted to rid the service of rotten apples. We can only regain the credibility of the police through a strong and clear action against rotten apples,” she said.

CPFs commended for saving businesses

Meanwhile, the committee commended the community policing forums (CPFs) for their efforts in trying to save businesses in the face of threats of physical harm.

“We appreciate the work done by the CPFs, despite the many challenges within which they operate. We will engage with the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service and the SAPS to strengthen coordination, as CPFs are a critical pillar in fighting criminality,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

The committee also welcomed the restoration of calm and stability in Gauteng, and urged the communities to protect the public and private infrastructure to ensure, among other things, the continuation of economic activity in their areas. – SAnews

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