PARLIAMENT’s portfolio committee will hold a meeting to evaluate the SAPS’s anti-gang strategy tomorrow.
Police Minister Bheki Cele and President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the anti-gang unit in Cape Town in November amid pressure to deploy specially-trained officers to tackle gangs.
Yesterday, committee chairperson Francois Beukman said the police’s ability to deal with organised crime, and specifically gangs, was key to ensuring that the recommendations of the National Development Plan about the re-establishment of specialised units was implemented.
Civil society groups and community leaders from Gauteng, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Free State have been invited to attend the meeting.
“The portfolio committee is of the firm view that the input of community members, community leaders, trade unions and religious leaders is key to dealing with gang criminality. We are looking forward to listening to their input and contributions,” Beukman said.
He also said the committee was very concerned about reports that more than 185 people had been killed in gang-related violence on the Cape Flats in the Western Cape since March last year.
Beukman said the availability of illegal firearms in gang-infested communities was also a major concern and needed non-stop intervention by the crime intelligence and the specialised unit of the Directorate of Priority Commercial Crimes dealing with illegal firearms.
He said they were also concerned about the support given to the community policing forums in gang hotspot areas.
Last month, a CPF member was shot in Eastridge, Mitchells Plain, and another was shot in a business robbery on February 2.
“The committee will seek assurances from the national police management and the Civilian Secretariat on Police to ensure that community policing forums in hot-spots receive the necessary support,” Beukman said.
Tomorrow’s meeting takes place on the same day Police Minister Bheki Cele and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride battle it out in court over the expiry of the latter’s employment contract on February 28.
The committee has yet to consider whether or not to extend McBride’s contract.
Meanwhile, reports surfaced yesterday that civil society organisations Corruption Watch and The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) have applied to be admitted as friends of the court.
News24 quoted from an affidavit of HSF director Francis Antonie saying their submission would provide critical insight into why the decision to renew a term of office should not be taken by any “political actor”.
“The HSF’s submissions will thus assist the court by demonstrating why granting the decision-making power to renew a term of office of the executive director of Ipid to a political actor, including members of the executive or Parliamentary Portfolio Committees, unlawfully infringes the independence of the Ipid.”
Antonie also said Cele placed his office at the centre of the renewal process, and then sought to distance himself from the importance of such a role.
By Mayibongwe Maqhina – email@example.com
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