DA KZN leader mulls legal options after being blocked from oversight visit to police workshop
The DA’s KwaZulu-Natal leader‚ Zwakele Mncwango‚ says he’s considering legal options after police officials blocked an oversight visit to a Pietermaritzburg vehicle workshop on Wednesday morning.
Mncwango’s visit came after newspaper reports which detailed severe backlogs at the police workshop – with some cop cars off the road for years while in for repairs.
“Obviously these resources are needed by police and it is taking more than two years to fix some of these cars. We know there was a memorandum from the acting provincial police commissioner barring political parties from conducting oversight visits but we decided to conduct an oversight visit anyway because it is my duty as a member of legislature‚” he said.
“An officer at the gate told me he had been instructed not to let us in but he could not advance reasons. I tried to call the acting commissioner‚ who was in a meeting‚ and I am waiting for him to come back to me‚” Mncwango added.
“We didn’t come here wearing party regalia; we came as members of legislature and not members of the DA. I will try and engage with the commissioner because I want to find out if he has any reason why members of parliament should be prevented from conducting oversight. While this happens I am considering our legal options‚” he said.
The acting commissioner‚ Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi‚ had two weeks ago issued a memorandum to all the province’s police stations that ordered officers to be circumspect with politicians and others who conducted “oversight” visits.
"The police can divulge information to official government institutions‚ such as the portfolio committee on policing from national parliament or provincial legislature‚ the department of planning‚ monitoring‚ and evaluation‚ civilian secretariat for police.
"However‚ the cluster and station commander would have received notification of such a visit from provincial head office and what is expected from the police’s side‚” he said in the circular.
On Mncwango’s visit‚ police spokesman Brigadier Jay Naicker said police would not prevent any official oversight visit.
“The directive that is constantly referred to was issued to address the concerns of station commanders who find political parties‚ NGOs and other private entities disrupting police business and posing a risk by demanding to enter operational areas within SAPS premises to conduct unofficial oversight visits‚” he said.
“The Acting Provincial Commissioner has an obligation to ensure that police in KZN delivers on its constitutional mandate and to put measures in place to safeguard our police officers‚ arrested persons‚ exhibits and criminal dockets.
We therefore cannot have people walking into our police stations without prior arrangements having been made and this also applies to those that are mandated to conduct oversight at police stations.”