'Public trust police to rescue cats'

27 March 2013 - 03:14 By AMUKELANI CHAUKE

Tempers flared in the Gauteng legislature yesterday when the DA called for the provincial government to establish a commission of inquiry into police brutality.

The DA's spokesman in the legislature on safety, Kate Lorimer, told Gauteng's executive committee members that, following several instances of police brutality - including the death of Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia, who was dragged behind a police van and allegedly assaulted in a police cell - the public did not trust the police.

When the DA, which has been fighting to get Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to implement a similar inquiry in Western Cape, asked why Gauteng was not willing to establish a commission of inquiry, safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said Lorimer's claims of loss of trust were unfounded.

When asked why she would not set up an inquiry, Mazibuko said: "The Independent Police Investigative Directorate is doing that, so we can't have parallel processes at provincial government.

"There are 137 community policing forums out there, 22 cluster boards and youth desks in all police stations.

"[Their] responsibility is to promote relations between the service and the community."

But a dissatisfied Lorimer responded by alleging that the community policing forums and other organisations that Mazibuko mentioned were not working.

"You speak to people . they do not trust the [police] and the metro police.

"People are scared to stop their cars when told to do so by the metro police because they get bullied.

"We have to do something about this and until we know the extent of the problem we cannot find solutions."

President Jacob Zuma on Thursday shot down calls for a national inquiry into police brutality. He reportedly said that incidents of brutality such as those now being condemned were isolated.

ANC members of the legislature hurled insults at Lorimer because of her persistent questioning.

Some said that Zuma had responded sufficiently to questions about police brutality in parliament.

Mazibuko said allegations that the public had lost confidence and trust in the police were false.

"It is amazing and shocking to hear statements by member Lorimer because there is a demand out there for the police.

"Every time a person picks up the phone [they call the police]. Even when a cat is stuck on the tree, the first people they call are the police."

Health MEC Hope Papo said most of the police the DA complained about had been inherited from the apartheid system.