ADDRESS BY Mr LB Gaehler MP – EC in the National NCOP
Hon Chairperson, Ministers and Members
The United Democratic Movement supports budget vote number 23 on POLICE.
The incident at the Alexandra police station yesterday is a cause for great concern. Not less than four lives have been lost in a short space of time. More disturbing is that the shooting of a wife, two relatives and a police officer took place at a police station where it is expected that citizen’s safety is guaranteed.
Many police offers are working under stressful conditions with no support mechanisms. Some are reported to be resisting attending counselling fearing that if they are diagnosed with certain conditions, such may make it difficult to get upward mobility at work.
One of the things that the department needs to priorities is the implementation of a doctrine that ensures that our police service functions according to a set of rules that are in line with the values enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic. The department must also run a consistent programme intended to condition the police for the demanding service they have to deliver to the communities. Related to this, is a concerted mobilisation of communities so that the relationship between the police and communities is the one that enhances the service and ensure maximum security of the citizens.
The instability with the Independent Police Investigating Directorate (IPID), undermines the strategic objectives for which that directorate was established. The ministry must ensure that the IPID stability is high in its agenda.
The allegations about police officer’s involvement in serious crimes are on the increase with little consequences if any. The low conviction rates of implicated officers suggest that the police do not take the problem seriously and that the policies in place to deal with this matter are ineffective. The department must pay attention to this crisis.
The morale and discipline of some of the police officers in some of the police stations lives much to be desired. This is coupled with the conditions under which these officers are expected to deliver services as well as their attitude towards the service and citizens.
On the 7th of October 2014, I penned a letter to the Minister of Police bring to his attention the poor service I was personally exposed to at the Ngangelizwe Police Station in Mthatha, Eastern Cape.
A combination of two fundamental factors referred to above, in that police station they find expression. The station had no tools for operation, such as a mere photocopy equipment, inks and others, let alone long queues that not attended to. The service in this station is a direct opposite of what is presented by the Minister and the department on the kind of service they commit to deliver to citizen.
Madam Chair, as I speak now, detective sections of many police stations across the country are unable to get photos from their colleagues in the photo section, because it is claimed that funds are not sufficient to make them available. This is rendering the detective sections incapable to discharge its responsibility and deliver services to the poor citizens. We call on the Ministry to attend to this as an urgent matter.
The Ministry and the department must pay very close attention to the daily work and service given in these police stations across the country.
Madam Chair, the turnaround time of the Legal Aid Board, is rather disturbing. There are cases that are not concluded due to their lack of timely response to service request by the public.
We to repeat the call we made with regard to the creation of special courts to respond to spontaneous illegal activities by communities. We must also consider the transformation of the judicial system as a priority that must not be stretched too long.
Security of prison and court officials as well as facilities thereof, constitute an area for consideration by the department as in some instances, there have been reports of a lack of safety in the correctional services centres.
An integrated programme and implementation by all the justice cluster will help us resolve many of the challenges confronting this area of strategic importance in the broader transformation agenda.