Parliamentary committee polices the cops in KZN

31 July 2017 - 16:47 By Taschica Pillay
Glebelands hostel in Umlazi. File photo.
Glebelands hostel in Umlazi. File photo.

Questionable crime statistics‚ unsolved murders and corrupt cops at police stations in KwaZulu-Natal will come under the spotlight in a week-long parliamentary committee inspection that kicked off in the province on Monday.

The Portfolio Committee on Police began their assessment of the KwaZulu-Natal state of policing with a visit to the Richards Bay police station‚ on the north coast‚ immediately raising red flags over crime statistics and plans to combat crime.

Chairman of the committee Francois Beukman said the committee was concerned following a site visit and briefing by station management on their challenges and crime fighting interventions.

"There are a number of challenges. The bottom line is we are dealing with serious crime. I am concerned that there was a presentation on the hotspots but we have not received the action plan.

“Just based on what was presented we are concerned about Richards Bay police station. They are given until Friday to provide us with the correct information‚" said Beukman.

Committee member Maapi Molebatsi said it appeared that the station commander‚ Brigadier Brenda Mgenge‚ had "thumb sucked" figures. However Mgenge said while she noted the shortfalls and the information on the system‚ she did not know where it went wrong. She added that she would rectify this.

The committee noted that the station's response times to complaints were all below target.

Beukman said the aim of the visit was to improve the state of policing and that they intended to call all non-performing police stations across the country to parliament.

He said the committee will seek answers from the SAPS regarding allegations made against some members in incidents of politically-motivated violence‚ which is under scrutiny by the Moerane Commission of Inquiry in KwaZulu-Natal. They will also probe the allegations of unwillingness by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to investigate the claims against SAPS members during the inquiry.

"People want crime to be fought effectively and the only way is if there is proper management‚" said Beukman.

"What are the challenges and what is hindering effective policing. The context is the increase in housebreaking‚ breaking into vehicles and theft and the issues raised by the Moerane Commission indicating there is a large number of unsolved murders in the province."

He said a serious concern for the committee was the station visits to look at efficiency and leadership and service delivery in urban and rural stations. The committee will be visiting KwaNongoma police station on Tuesday and conduct oversight visits to Chatsworth and Umlazi‚ as well as surprise visits to other stations.

Beukman said on Friday they will be meeting the head of the Hawks to establish what measures are in place to secure confidential documents countrywide following a break-in at their Pretoria office a few weeks ago.

"We are engaging with the acting provincial commissioner on what they are doing in terms of unsolved murders and the issue of Gleblands hostel.

"Our concern is what Is the state of the detectives in the province. If there are a lot of unsolved cases and you must bring in every few months a specialised task team shows there must be a challenge in the detective environment.

"We will engage and find out their action plan to deal with corrupt police in the province. There has been various allegations of gun running and of people staying in Glebelands‚" said Beukman.